By Britwatch Team
- Scheduled players: Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Tomas Berdych, David Ferrer and more
- Defending champion: Ferrer
- 4-10 January 2015
DOHA, QATAR– World number one Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal headline a stacked season opener at the Qatar Exonmobil Open.
Britwatch Tennis: Full Draws and Schedules
Top Quarter: Novak Djokovic/Leonardo Mayer
The world number one was so dominant in 2015 we ran out of superlatives to describe him. Three slams, over 16,000 points and a hat-fu1l of other titles- Djokovic was damn near unstoppable.
But one city he failed to conquer in a history making season was Doha. A shock loss in the quarter finals to Ivo Karlovic was not what the doctor ordered- well unless it was Doctor Ivo.
Djokovic has a fairly safe passage through this quarter. A qualifier awaits in round one with Fernando Verdasco or Malek Jaziri awaiting in round tw. Mayer is the other seed in the section due to Richard Gasquet’s withdrawal and should be expected to meet the world number one in the quarter finals. He also faces a qualifier in round one before meeting the winner of Pablo Andujar vs Paolo Lorenzi.
Second Quarter: Tomas Berdych/Feliciano Lopez
The Czech will also kick off his 2016 campaign in Doha after another consistent year in 2015. Berdych will start the new year against serve and volley specialist Sergiy Stakhovsky, not the type of match you want for a season opener. Marco Cecchianto or Damir Dzumhur await in round two.
At 34 years of age, Feliciano Lopez is playing the best tennis of his career- don’t player usually peak in their late 20’s? The Spaniard faces compatriot Daniel Munoz-De La Nava in what should be a routine opener. Martin Klizan in round two will be a lot more challenging but the Slovak must beat a qualifier to advance
Third quarter: David Ferrer/Jeremy Chardy
The defending champion is back to reclaim the title he won last year, after all he is known for not going away. The third seed has some potential toughies in his quarter which starts with Ilya Marchenko. The task starts to get a little tricky in round two with Simone Bolelli and Teymuraz Gabashvili both capable of an upset.
As is seventh seed Chardy. His high risk game can at times reap big rewards but consistency remains an issue. Local wildcard Mubarak Shannan Zayid will unlikely test that statement in the opening round, but Albert Ramos could in the second round likewise with Paul-Henri Mathieu.
Bottom Quarter: Rafael Nadal/Andreas Seppi
The journey back towards grand slam contention for Nadal starts here. The 24 time grand slam champion endured a tough 2015, but showed signs of returning to his old self later on in the year. Pablo Carreno Busta is a fine player but it is unlikely he will test Nadal in the opening round. The second seed should make the quarter finals at the very least with a qualifier or Robin Haase in the second round.
It is a quarter that lacks big names which suits Seppi to the ground. Although the Italian struggles against the elite, he is very handy at beating lower ranked opposition. Ricardas Berankis awaits in the first round then Andrey Kuznetsov or Marcel Ilhan.
The Qatar ExxonMobil Open takes place between 4-10 January.
FOLLOW BRITWATCH – SPORTS IN GENERAL, BRITS IN PARTICULAR!