Announcer for the 2021 Qatar ExxonMobil Open, Andy Taylor recaps Andrey Rublev and Aslan Karatsev’s Championship match victory over Marcus Daniell and Philipp Oswald. The tandem earned their first title together without dropping a set.
With the victory, Andrey Rublev is not only a Doha Doubles Champion; he is a 2-time Singles Finalist (Finalist in 2018) and the 2020 Singles champion. Meanwhile, the title is the first for Aslan Karatsev on the ATP Tour, Singles or Doubles.
Aslan Karatsev -447- (RUS) and Andrey Rublev -87- (RUS) | Announcer Introduction
Reigning ATP Cup Champions, they’ve earned their first three match-victories together this week in Doha – and are through to tonight’s championship match after a thrilling, double-tiebreak, Semifinal victory over 2017 Champions Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin.
Last month at the Australian Open, he became the first man in the Open Era to the reach the Semifinals of a Major in his Grand Slam main-draw debut. Tonight, he competes in his first-ever ATP Doubles Final. From Russia – Aslan Karatsev.
And his partner – last year, lifted Doha’s falcon for the first time, capturing the Singles title in his second Qatar ExxonMobil Open championship match appearance. Remarkably, he went on to win four additional titles in 2020 – and on Sunday Night in Rotterdam, earned his 8th career Singles title overall. Tonight, he’s competing in his 4th career ATP Doubles Final. From Russia, welcome back Andrey Rublev.
- FF — W — Marcus Daniell -41- (NZL) and Philipp Oswald -37- (AUT) | Score: 7-5, 6-4
- SF — W — Jeremy Chardy -31- (FRA) and Fabrice Martin -25- (FRA) | Score: 7-6(5), 7-6(2)
- QF — W —  Jean-Julien Rojer -26- (NED) and Marcelo Melo -12- (BRA) | Score: 6-2, 6-3
- R1 — W — Lorenzo Sonego -208- (ITA) and Andrea Vavassori -90- (ITA) | Score: 7-6(2), 6-2
Marcus Daniell -41- (NZL) and Philipp Oswald -37- (AUT) | Announcer Introduction
Yesterday – they earned their second career victory over the #1 Doubles team in the world Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah to reach tonight’s championship match. Last October, they upset the sport’s top tandem in Sardinia to capture their first Doubles title together. Tonight marks their 3rd ATP Doubles Final as a team.
He owns 5 ATP Doubles titles, is a 3-time Grand Slam Quarterfinalist – and tonight, is competing in his 15th championship match on the ATP Tour. From New Zealand, Marcus Daniell.
His partner – is now a 19-time Finalist on Tour, and owns 11 career ATP Doubles titles. But this – is not his first championship match appearance here in Doha. Six-years-ago, he reached the Final with partner Julien Knowle, and battled Juan Monaco and Rafael Nadal for the title. From Austria – 2-time Doha Finalist, Phlipp Oswald.
- FF — L — Aslan Karatsev -447- (RUS) and Andrey Rublev -87- (RUS) | Score: 5-7, 4-6
- SF — W —  Juan Sebastian Cabal -02- (COL) and Robert Farah -02- (COL) | Score: 6-3, 6-4
- QF — W — John Millman -297- (AUS) and David Vega Hernandez -109- (ESP) | Score: 6-4, 6-1
- R1 — W —  Filip Polasek -10- (SVK) and Ivan Dodig -09- (CRO) | Score: 6-3, 6-7(2) 11-9
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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 typically happens 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.