ATP Qatar Open 2020 Preview: Wawrinka, Rublev Look to Make Impressive Starts to the Season

Stan Wawrinka v Frances Tiafoe live streaming and predictions

One of the first tournaments of the season, the Qatar Open, is set to begin on January 6 at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha.

Hosting some of the top players in action, the tournament is a part of the ATP 250 series and has a large prize money of more than $1.3 million. Known as one of the best tournaments in its category, the Qatar Open has hosted Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

Djokovic, who is a two-time champion at Doha, will not be playing this year as the tournament clashes with the inaugural ATP Cup where he will be leading Serbia. The defending champion, Roberto Bautista Agut who defeated wild card entry Tomas Berdych last year, will be representing Spain at the ATP Cup.

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The Qatar Open has been voted as the ATP 250 Tournament of the Year on three occasions, but most recently last year.

The highest-ranked player at Doha this year is Stan Wawrinka who is currently ranked 16 in the world. A three-time Grand Slam champion, Wawrinka reached his career-best rank of number 3 in 2014.

In 2018, Wawrinka slipped to 263 but worked his way up to begin the 2019 season at world no. 59 and end the season under the top 20. Wawrinka reached the finals at the ATP event in Rotterdam and the European Open in Antwerp both of which were on hard courts, giving the first seed undue advantage.

He also reached the quarterfinals at the French Open as well as the US Open. At the Qatar Open last year, Wawrinka reached the quarterfinals losing against eventual champion Roberto Bautista Agut.

World no. 24, Andrey Rublev will join Wawrinka among the top-seeded players. Rublev reached his career-best rank of 22 this year when he won the Kremlin Cup defeating fellow Qatar competitor Adrian Mannarino who is currently ranked at 43. Rublev also reached the finals of the Challenger event at Indian Wells and the ATP 500 tournament in Hamburg.

Last year, Rublev reached the round of 16 in Doha but is a former finalist at the event, losing to Gael Monfils in 2018.

The duo will face stiff competition from former Qatar Open champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The 34-year-old who has 18 titles to his name won the event in 2012 defeating Gael Monfils.

Tsonga did well this year, lifting the title in Montpellier back in February and winning the Challenger event in Chassis. Joining him is world no.31 Milos Raonic, a former Wimbledon finalist.

The Canadian, who was forced to pull out of the US Open last year due to injury will debut in Doha hoping for a victory to start off the season well.

Raonic reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open last year defeating Stan Wawrinka and Alexander Zverev. He reached the semi-finals of the Indian Wells Open and the Stuttgart Open where he defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the round of 16. Raonic has not won a title last year but is one of the players who consider the hard-court their speciality which makes him a significant threat to his fellow competitors.

The remaining four seeded players are Laslo Djere, Filip Krajinovic, Adrian Mannarino and Frances Tiafoe. Krajinovic has progressed at Qatar over the years, playing the round of 32 for the first time last year and will hope to make a larger impact this year.

In a historic pairing, Wawrinka and Tiafoe will team up for the first time in Doha to try to win the doubles crown starting on January 6.

About Disha Doshi 77 Articles
Disha is an undergraduate student of Political Science who is as passionate about tennis as world politics. She enjoys writing, occasionally watching cricket and football and loves sharing her opinions.

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