Doha 2017: Andy Murray. Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic arrives in Doha

Novak Djokovic arrives in Doha

Happy New Year from Doha, Qatar.

Tonight we held the official press conference and draw ceremony for the Qatar ExxonMobil Open 2017 at the Four Seasons Doha. 2016 was an amazing year for “Sir” Andy Murray. His daughter Sofia was born in February, he won a career-best 9 ATP World Tour titles, his second Wimbledon Championship, his second consecutive Olympic Gold Medal, his first Barclay’s ATP World Tour Finals, and he wrestled the year-end World #1 ranking away from Novak Djokovic. Both start their 2017 season here in Doha as the top-2 seeds. Perhaps the first Championship match of the New Year will rival their high-stakes clash at the O2 back in November.

Murray drew Jeremy Chardy in Round-1, while Novak will face Jan-Lennard Struff at the bottom of the draw. Novak arrived in Doha early this morning. Andy arrives tonight, after his 3rd-place finish at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, defeating Milos Raonic in the 3rd-place match.

Our thanks to tonight’s participants:

  • Tariq Darwish Zainal. Secretary General of the Qatar Tennis Federation and General Coordinator of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open
  • Allistair Routledge. President and General Manager of ExxonMobil Qatar
  • Karim Alami. Tournament Director and 1999 Qatar ExxonMobil Open Semifinalist
  • Saad Al Mohanadi. Assistant Tournament Director
  • Nasser Al-Kawari. VP and JV Terminals Asset Manager, ExxonMobil Qatar

The Four Seasons Doha

Gerald Melzer. Malek Jaziri. Florian Mayer. Andrey Kuznetsov.

Happy New Year 2017 from Doha, Qatar

A huge thanks to ATP Supervisor Gerry Armstrong and four of this year’s top players for attending, as well. Here are the quick bios I put together for each of them as they came up on stage:

GERRY ARMSTRONG
FOR 41-YEARS, HE CHAIRED PREMIER MATCHES AT THE PINNACLE OF THE SPORT; INCLUDING THE 1992 WIMBLEDON DOUBLES FINAL, WHERE JOHN MCENROE AND MICHAEL STICH WON 19-17 IN THE FIFTH – A CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH THAT LASTED TWO DAYS. ALWAYS LEVEL-HEADED, STEADY AND DECISIVE – PLEASE JOIN ME IN WELCOMING, THE UNFLAPPABLE – GERRY ARMSTRONG.

GERALD MELZER
HERE IN DOHA FOR THE FIRST TIME, HE WON FOUR ATP CHALLENGER TOUR TITLES LAST YEAR ALONE, APPEARING IN SIX FINALS, AND CLIMBED TO A CAREER-HIGH RANKING OF #68 IN THE WORLD – FROM AUSTRIA, GERALD MELZER.

MALEK JAZIRI
MAKING HIS SIXTH QATAR EXXONMOBIL OPEN APPEARANCE, HE IS THE MOST SUCCESSFUL TUNISIAN PLAYER IN THE HISTORY OF THE SPORT, AND BROKE INTO THE TOP-50 LAST OCTOBER WITH A WIN OVER WORLD #14 DAVID GOFFIN IN SHENZEN – FROM TUNISIA, MALEK JAZIRI

FLORIAN MAYER
THREE YEARS AGO HERE IN DOHA, THIS FELLOW WAS DOWN A SET AND LOVE-3…BEFORE HE CAME-BACK TO DEFEAT ANDY MURRAY IN THE ROUND OF 16. IT’S GREAT TO SEE HIM HEALTHY AND BACK INTO THE TOP-50 AFTER THAT WIN IN HALLE LAST JUNE – FROM GERMANY, FLORIAN MAYER

ANDREY KUZNETSOV
APPEARING IN HIS 3RD QATAR EXXONMOBIL OPEN, HE IS COMING OFF A CAREER-BEST SEASON THAT SAW HIM REACH THE ROUND OF 16 AT THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN, MAKE HIS OLYMPIC DEBUT, REMAIN UNDEFEATED IN DAVIS CUP COMPETITION, AND REACH A CAREER-HIGH RANKING OF WORLD #39 LAST APRIL…FROM RUSSIA, ANDREY KUZNETSOV

Doha. Qualifying Round-1 Results from Saturday

[1] N. Basilashvili (GEO) d L. Vanni (ITA) 61 75
[2] R. Stepanek (CZE) d L. Giustino (ITA) 57 75 64
M. Basic (BIH) d [3] M. Chiudinelli (SUI) 64 06 61
V. Millot (FRA) d [4] T. Fabbiano (ITA) 67(3) 63 61
E. Lopez-Perez (ESP) d [5] E. Donskoy (RUS) 64 64
M. Safwat (EGY) d [6] T. Daniel (JPN) 76(1) 62
[7] A. Giannessi (ITA) d [WC] M. Zayed (QAT) 62 61
[8] V. Pospisil (CAN) d [WC] J. Ali Mutawa (QAT) 62 62

Doha. Qualifying Final Round matches on Sunday

[1] N. Basilashvili (GEO) vs [8] V. Pospisil (CAN)
[2] R. Stepanek (CZE) vs E. Lopez-Perez (ESP)
M. Basic (BIH) vs [7] A. Giannessi (ITA)
V. Millot (FRA) vs M. Safwat (EGY)

Mubadala World Tennis Championship. Abu Dhabi

World #1 Andy Murray and World #3 Milos Raonic were given First Round byes for this year’s event, with a chance to rest-up during the first day of play. Meanwhile Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (12) drew David Goffin (11), while Rafael Nadal (9) drew Tomas Berdych (10).

In Thursday’s first match, Goffin advanced to the Semifinals with a straight-sets win over Tsonga. Nadal punished Berdych in his first competitive match in over two months, winning the first set in under 30-minutes, then advanced to the Semifinals with a 6-4 win in the second.

  • David Goffin def. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6, 4-6
  • Rafael Nadal def. Tomas Berdych 6-0, 6-4

On Friday, both top-seeds fell. In their five previous matches, David Goffin hadn’t won a set off of the new World #1, but it was Andy Murray’s turn to fall in two. Goffin won the first set in a tie-break, then delivered the win 6-4. Nadal started strong against Milos Raonic, but the Canadian recovered in set-2 to force a decider, where Nadal capped the win 6-3. Rafa, after the match: “In the third, I started serving a bit better again and playing a little bit more aggressive. It was a great victory against the No 3 player of the world.” Jo-Wilfried Tsonga scored the 5th-place win over Berdych, earning it 10-3 in the Super Tie Break.

  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga def. Tomas Berdych 6-7, 6-3, (10-3)
  • David Goffin def. Andy Murray (1) 7-6, 6-4
  • Rafael Nadal def. Milos Raonic (3) 6-1, 3-6, 6-3

David Goffin. Rafael Nadal. Mubadala World Tennis Championship. Abu Dhabi

Andy Murray. Mubadala World Tennis Championship. Abu Dhabi

New Year’s Eve saw Rafael Nadal win his 4th Mubadala World Tennis Championship, as he defeated Goffin in a second-set tie-break. Nadal looked strategically comfortable, mixing up pace and rhythm to gain the upper hand. He and David had never previously played a competitive match; but they’re regular practice partners who understand the subtle nuances (or not so subtle in Rafa’s case) of each other’s game. Rafa’s power gave him the edge. Nadal after the win: “When you have success many times here is so special. I’m very excited to start a new season playing at this level last three days.”

While Rafa is off to Brisbane, David Goffin heads here to Doha where he’ll face Robin Haase in Round-1. Andy Murray’s also headed this way, after defeating Milos Raonic in straight-sets to earn 3rd-place in Abu Dhabi. Andy Murray after the match: “It was good to finish the year with a win. It was a good match to work on returns as Milos has a strong serve.” And as for being knighted in Friday’s New Years Honours list: “I still feel like Andy Murray – that feels more normal – but I am happy with the knighthood and it is a nice way to start the new year.”

  • Andy Murray def. Milos Raonic 6-3, 7-6
  • Rafael Nadal def. David Goffin 6-4, 7-6(5)

By the way, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is delaying his Doha arrival until tomorrow. He faces Andrey Kuznetsov in Round-1. Tonight, he’ll ring-in 2017 on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi at the Coldplay concert.