Announcer for the 2021 Qatar ExxonMobil Open, Andy Taylor recaps Dan Evans’ Round-1 victory over 2017 Doha Doubles Champion Jeremy Chardy. Conditions were brutal, as the Arab Gulf’s hot desert sun baked both during the hottest part of the day.
Fifth meeting, second this year. Evans remains undefeated against Chardy in 2021.
This was the 5th meeting between these two talents. Jeremy Chardy won their first three matches, including a straight-sets victory in the 2017 Davis Cup World Group Quarterfinals. Dan Evans is now undefeated against Chardy in 2021. The top-ranked Brit won their most recent match last month in the Semifinals of the Murray River Open; where Dan captured his first ATP Tour Singles title.
Dan Evans -28- (GBR) | Round-1 Announcer Introduction
Great Britain’s top talent — last month in Melbourne, he captured his first ATP Singles title at the Murray River Open and climbed to a career-high ranking of World #26. Now a 3-time Tour-level Finalist, he also owns 7 Challenger titles; and in 2015, helped lift Great Britain to the Davis Cup World Group Final — where they captured their first Davis Cup title in 79-years. With 3 career wins over top-10 opponents – his biggest came at the 2017 Australian Open, where he defeated World #7 Marin Cilic to reach Round-4 of a Major for the first time. Competing in his 3rd Qatar ExxonMobil Open; in pursuit of his first main draw Doha victory – From Great Britain, please welcome Dan Evans.
- R1 — W — Jeremy Chardy -54- (FRA) | Score: 6-4, 1-6, 6-2
Jeremy Chardy -54- (FRA) | Round-1 Announcer Introduction
A Quarterfinalist here in Doha 5-years-ago; he owns 1 ATP Singles title – is a 3-time Finalist – and has been ranked as high as World #25. After playing only seven matches last season due the pandemic suspension – he started 2021 on a tear; reaching back-to-back Semifinals in Antalya and Melbourne. Then last week in Rotterdam, he played through qualifying and upset World #14 David Goffin to reach the Quarterfinals – where he took Andrey Rublev to a deciding set. On Monday – he shot-up 10-spots in the rankings, and returns to Doha as the World #54. Making his 6th Qatar ExxonMobil Open appearance – he captured the Doubles title on this court in 2017. From France, please welcome Jeremy Chardy.
- R1 — L — Dan Evans -28- (GBR) | Score: 4-6, 6-1, 2-6
2021 Qatar ExxonMobil Open: Different Date. Unusual Reality.
In 2021, due to the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic, the ATP Tour rescheduled the Qatar ExxonMobil Open to take place the second week of March. A portion of the season typically carved-out for week-2 of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. When Indian Wells postponed its tournament due to COVID-19’s continued threat to the Coachella Valley, the Tour reinvented the 2021 calendar.
As a result, Delray Beach and Antalya hosted the season’s first events. Both ATP-250 tournaments, Delray is typically held in February – while Antalya is best-known for its grass event the week prior to Wimbledon. From there, Australian Open qualifiers played three rounds in Doha, while main-draw entrants traveled to Australia for two weeks of quarantine. Meanwhile, Tennis Australia moved the Australian Open to the second week of February, to accommodate the country’s strict pandemic protocols. Immediately following quarantine, Melbourne Park hosted several new lead-up tournaments along with the ATP Cup. After Oz, the Tour then staged five events over the next two weeks (Singapore-250, Cordoba-250, Montpellier-250, Rotterdam-500 and Buenos Aires-250), before Doha-250 and Montpellier-250 shared center stage on March 8th.
Doha: Back to a Week-1 Event in 2022
Provided there are no further set-backs with the global pandemic, next year the Qatar ExxonMobil Open should return to it’s week-1 position on the calendar. Like in 2020, it will launch the season alongside the ATP Cup, played in venues across Australia.
Coronavirus: Delivering a top-shelf international event responsibly
While the Qatar Tennis Federation allowed fans to attend the 2021 Qatar ExxonMobil Open; the QTF sold tickets at reduced capacity. All wore masks, encountered temperature checks upon arrival, and adhered to social-distancing guidelines – required to sit several seats apart.
Players, ATP staff and umpires lived in their own “bubble” at the Four Seasons. Meanwhile, tournament support, lines-people, ball persons and the announcer stayed in a separate “bubble” at Ezdan Palace. All underwent routine coronavirus testing and regular temperature checks. Everyone wore masks at all times (except players and umpires during competition). The locker-room was off-limits for the athletes until their match was on-deck, and none were allowed to shower on site. Every aspect of post-match recovery took place at the player hotel.
Pandemic Event Hosting: Champions adjust
From behind-the-scenes pandemic protocols to extreme “socially-distanced” announcer interviews and trophy presentations – the Qatar Tennis Federation and ATP Tour adhered to every science-guided precaution to ensure the safety of all involved. And by doing so, despite all of the obvious challenges, delivered another top-shelf experience for both players and fans on site and those watching around the world.
Hosting high-profile international events during a devastating pandemic is possible. That is, when organizers have the courage, compassion and ingenuity to reinvent the way things are done; when they have the flexibility and financial support to adjust expectation. And as we’ve all learned after one year of separation, isolation, anxiety and heart-break: the “escape” that televised sports provides is invaluable to mental health. A welcome distraction to a very un-welcome new reality.