Doha, Jan 3:
Tennis aficionados are in for some high-adrenaline action as pros of the circuit start this year’s campaign with season-opener Qatar Open here on Monday.
The six-day hard-court Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) event, that carries a combined purse of $1,283,855, has been decorated with an array of stars. Leading the fray is World No.1 Novak Djokovic.
“I am looking forward to playing here. This is my second outing in Doha and it’s a perfect start to the season with great line-up of players,” said the Serbian on Sunday.
Djokovic, who landed on the Arabian soil early on Wednesday, would be expecting keen contest from Spaniards Rafael Nadal, who is currently ranked No.5, and 33-year-old defending champion David Ferrer, currently No.7.
While Nadal would be looking forward to get back into the groove that saw him win the 2014 edition, countryman Ferrer is banking on fine momentum that saw him clinch the Vienna Open, overpowering Fabio Fognini, Gael Monfils and Steve Johnson in October thereby pushing his unbeaten run to 5-0.
The event has assumed significance for the 29-year-old Nadal, who started 2015 as the defending champion here, but suffered a shocking three-set defeat to Michael Berrer in the first round.
Also, the Spaniard would be looking to make amends to his rather ordinary 2015 season that was punctuated by injuries. Probably, one of his most forgettable defeats was his loss to French Open finalist Djokovic in the quarterfinals that ended his winning streak of 39 consecutive victories in Paris since his defeat by Robin Soderling in 2009.
Even though the clay court expert went on to win the 2015 Mercedes Cup against Serbian Viktor Troicki, his first grass court title since he won at Wimbledon in 2010, he was unable to continue his good form.
“Very happy to be in Doha soon for the Qatar Open. It is always a great way to start the season. Always found great warmth at this event from the staff and spectators. Fantastic event,” he said.
Defending champion Ferrer is also ecstatic.
“I’m pleased to kick-off my new season in Doha again, I have lovely memories here especially after clinching the title last season. I will be there to defend my title and I hope I will be able to do so,” said Ferrer.
Last year’s finalist, World No.6 Tomas Berdych, who had gone down 4-6, 5-7 to Ferrer, would also be eyeing a good finish here.
1. Novak Djokovic
2. Rafael Nadal
3. Tomas Berdych
4. David Ferrer
5. Feliciano Lopez
6. Andreas Seppi
7. Jeremy Chardy
8. Leonardo Mayer
Winner – $201,165
Finalist – $105,940
Semi-finalist – $57,380
Quarter-finalist – $32,700
Second round – $19,265
First round – $11,415 (IANS)