Tennis Host Andy Taylor | Voice of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open | Photo: City Center Fog
Round-1 of Qualifying for the Qatar ExxonMobil Open 2019 featured a gratifying win for the 2-seed Mirza Basic, a pair of alternates introduced due to injury withdrawals, and four players ranked well-outside the top-100 taking center stage thanks to a mid-morning rain that drenched Court-5.
RESULTS | Qualifying Round-1. 29-December
Today’s center court matches were originally scheduled for Court-5 here in Doha, but a stubborn mid-morning rain on Court-5’s shady surface (ironically) quickly evaporated those plans. After a 90-minute delay, four players ranked well-outside the top-100 found themselves on center stage.
 Ricardas Berankis -117- (LTU) def Dennis Novak -142- (AUT) 64 63
Ricardas Berankis and Dennis Novak played once before – last year in the Quarterfinals of the St. Brieuc Challenger in France. It was a killer match. Barnakis won it in two tie-break sets 76(1) 76(4). Saturday’s clash in Doha’s 1st-Round of qualifying was considerably less epic. Berankis was up 5-0 in a blink, then lost four straight games before securing the set. In the end, Ricardas retooled and refocused to earn a shot at the #4 Qualifying seed tomorrow, Paolo Lorenzi.
Sergiy Stakhovsky -135- (UKR) def [Alt] Gian Marco Moroni -215- (ITA) 76(5) 75
Stakovsky, competing in his 10th Qatar ExxonMobil Open, faced an unfamiliar opponent in 20-year-old Italian Gian Marco Moroni. Early this morning, the door opened for Moroni when the #5 Qualifying seed, Elias Ymer withdrew from the tournament due to a shoulder injury. Ready at a moment’s notice, Moroni challenged 32-year-old Stakovsky, but on-court poise and experience tilted the scales in the Ukrainian’s favor. Sergiy edged-out a squeaker 76(5) 75, and will face the #2 Qualifying seed Mirza Basic for a spot in the main-draw.
 Marcos Baghdatis -125- (CYP) def Lukas Rosol -141- (CZE) 60 76(3)
Court-1’s first match promised to be a thriller. It was the affable 2006 Australian Open Finalist from Cyprus versus the Czech best known for punting Rafael Nadal from the 2nd-Round of Wimbledon in 2012. It wasn’t a thriller. Baghdatis bageled Rosol in the first set, then earned victory in a second-set tiebreak. Marcos is a 2-time Quarterfinalist here in Doha (2006 2007), it would be fun to see the 33-year-old Cypriot make a run as a Qualifier, 12-years later. He’ll face the #3 Qualifying seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez on Sunday.
 Marco Trungelliti -122- (ARG) def [WC] Mousa Shanan Zayed (QAT) 60 61
Local professional, 24-year-old Mousa Shanan Zayed is currently unranked on the ATP World Tour, but he’s no stranger to the Qatar ExxonMobil Open. This was his 5th Qualifying Wild Card appearance. In 2012 and 2013, he was awarded Wild Cards into the main-draw, where he fell to Gael Monfils [06 36] and World #4 Andy Murray [06 06]. Argentina’s Marco Trungelliti had no issues with one of Doha’s top-talents, allowing Mousa only a single game in Court-1’s quick qualifier. Marco will face the top-qualifying seed Maximilian Marterer on Sunday, and will battle for a spot in the main-draw in his Doha debut.
Meanwhile, Mubarak Shannan Zayid (13-months younger), currently ranked World #1193 is the only Qatari remaining. Mubarak scored a spot as main-draw Wild Card, and during the draw ceremony, had the fortune of receiving a qualifier as an opponent in Round-1.
 Paolo Lorenzi -110- (ITA) def [WC] Jabor Al-Mutawa (QAT) 61 60
Rome’s Paolo Lorenzi – 2013 Quarterfinalist here in Doha – had the distinguished honor of vanquishing the other local Wild Card in this year’s Qualifying draw. Like Mousa Shanan Zayid, Jabor was only able to muster a single game against the former World #33. Lorenzi is a determined workhorse who’s won a single ATP Singles title (Kitzbühel in 2016) and 21 ATP Challenger Tour Singles titles. In fact, he won 2 Challenger titles in 3 Finals last year alone. Always on the cusp of ATP Tour-level success, Paolo is now 37-years-old and still refuses to lose. The #4 Qualifying seed will meet Ricardas Berankis for a spot in the main-draw. By the way, this is the first time he’s ever had to play through qualifying here at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open.
 Maximilian Marterer -74- (GER) def Andrea Arnaboldi -180- (ITA) 36 62 63
The top Qualifying seed, baby-faced 23-year-old Maximillian Marterer of Germany, is here in Doha for the second time. Last year, he fell in the 2nd-Round of Qualifying, but went on the have a career-best season. He won his first ATP Tour-level main-draw match at the Australian Open, won his 6th Challenger Tour title, advanced to his first ATP Quarterfinal at Sofia, reached his first ATP Semifinal in Munich, and made the Round of 16 at a Major for the first time at Roland Garros. By August, he climbed to a career-high ranking of World #45. Marterer’s oppponent on Saturday, Italy’s Andreas Arnaboldi looked like he was headed for an upset after capturing the first set 6-3, but Maximilian regrouped and only allowed 5-games the rest of the way. Marterer will face Marco Trungelliti for his first berth into Doha’s main-draw.
 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez -105- (ESP) def [Alt] James Ward -190- (GBR) 76(6) 62
Five years later, it was redemption-time on Court-3 for Barcelona’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. His opponent – James Ward – received entry into qualifying after Yannick Maden of Germany withdrew from the tournament with a shoulder injury. At the 2014 Masters event in Indian Wells, James won a deciding-set flip-flopper over Guillermo 62 36 61. Garcia-Lopez was determined not to let that happen again. After securing set-1 in a tiebreak, the Spaniard eliminated the last-second alternate 6-2 in set-2. Next up, the #3 Qualifying seed will face the always dangerous Marcos Baghdatis. That said, Guillermo owns a 5-0 record over the Cypriot, including a 2015 victory in the Zagreb Semifinals that led to Garcia-Lopez’s 4th of 5 career ATP Singles titles.
 Mirza Basic -88- (BIH) def Matthias Bachinger -130- (GER) 63 63
Mirza Basic continues to impress. The World #88 reached the Quarterfinals here last year as a qulifier, earning main-draw victories over Andreas Haider-Maurer and Feliciano Lopez. A month later, again as a qualifier, he won his first ATP Tour-level title in Sofia and climbed to a career-high ranking of World #74. He then lifted Bosnia to the Davis Cup World Group Playoffs, winning the 5th and deciding rubber over Slovakia.
On Saturday, in his 3rd career clash with Matthias Bachinger, he dismantled the German for the first time. In their previous two meetings, Bachinger emerged the victor: 2014 Ortesei Challenger Quarterfinals [75 61] – and 2015 Final-Round of Qualifying in Zagreb [67(5) 64 76(4)]. Needless to say, the latter was a gutting loss. A 63 63 win in Qualifying can seem like an after-thought. But this was a big win for Basic.
Basic will face a tough opponent in the Final Round of Qualifying, looking to repeat his fruitful Qualifying Quarterfinal main-draw run in last year’s Qatar ExxonMobil Open. Like Bachinger, he last faced Stakovsky in the 2014 Ortesei Challenger – in the Round of 16 – and needed three complete sets to pull-out the victory 36 76(4) 64.
SCHEDULE | Qualifying Round-2. 30-December. 3:30pm
THE QUALIFIERS | Qatar ExxonMobil Open 2019
 Maximilian Marterer -74- (GER)
 Mirza Basic -88- (BIH)
 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez -105- (ESP)
 Paolo Lorenzi -110- (ITA)
 Elias Ymer -116- (SWE) | replaced by [Alt] Gian Marco Moroni -215- (ITA)
 Ricardas Berankis -117- (LTU)
 Marco Trungelliti -122- (ARG)
 Marcos Baghdatis -125- (CYP)
Yannick Maden -127- (GER) | replaced by [Alt] James Ward -190- (GBR)
Matthias Bachinger -130- (GER)
Sergiy Stakhovsky -135- (UKR)
Lukas Rosol -141- (CZE)
Dennis Novak -142- (AUT)
Andrea Arnaboldi -180- (ITA)
[WC] Mousa Shanan Zayed -No Ranking- (QAT)
[WC] Jabor Al-Mutawa -No Ranking- (QAT)
[Withdrawal] Yannick Maden -127- (GER) | Shoulder Injury
[Withdrawal] Elias Ymer -116- (SWE) | Elbow Injury