Doha: Top seed Denis Shapovalov will be looking to forget his terrible Rotterdam outing in a hurry when the Canadian begins his challenge at the 30th edition of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open at the ATP 250 event at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex.
The World No. 12 has a first round bye in the 32-player Doha field in the $1,176,595 in prize money tournament which begins on Monday.
Shapovalov has been handed a relatively easy path but the 2021 quarter-finalist in Doha could be on a collision course with the defending champion Nikoloz Basilashvili of Gerogia, the draw revealed yesterday.
The 22-year-old is familiar with the Doha courts having played here before so he will be motivated to do well once more. The six-feet plus left-handed Shapovalov awaits the winner of Slovak Alex Molcan vs Serbian Filip Krajinovic for his opening round opponent.
The left hander enjoyed few notable wins at the Australian Open before going down fighting to Grand Slam record-holder and the eventual champion Rafael Nadal of Spain in a five-set thriller in the Melbourne quarter-finals. Those who fell victims to Shapovalov at the Melbourne Park included World No. 3 Alexander Zverev and Reilly Opelka.
But last week in Rotterdam, Shapovalov suffered a shock 6-4, 6-4 loss against qualifier Jiri Lehecka. Lehecka, ranked at No. 137 in the world.
In his second appearance in Doha, Shapovalov also has Kazakh Alexander Bublik, seeded seventh, in the top half of the draw with a possible quarter-final meeting.
If Shapovalov progresses then he could well meet the tournament’s defending champion Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia in the semi-finals.
The 29-year-old Basilashvili is expected to meet the fast-rising Italian teen Lorenzo Musetti, who plays a qualifier in his opening clash.
In contrast, a relatively difficult meeting will await last year’s runner-up and second-seed Roberto Bautista-Agut of Spain in his opening match. Bautista-Agut may have to face three-time Grand Slam champion and former world number one Andy Murray of Britain – a two-time winner in Doha.
The draw set up Murray against Daniel Taro once more after the Japanese player halted Murray at the Australian Open. If Murray wins he will face last year’s runner-up Roberto Bautista Agut.
Murray will also look for some good tennis in Qatar after having limited success in Rotterdam.
In the mix are 4th seeded wild card Croatian Marin Cilic, and Belgian David Goffin.
Goffin could possibly meet sixth-seeded Russian Karen Khachanov in the second round. Khachanov will start his campaign against Mackenzie McDonal of the US.
Meanwhile, Thomas Fabbiano, Christopher Eubanks, Christopher O’Connell and Jozef Kovalik made it to the main draw while the qualifying rounds on Sunday.
Source: Qatar Olympic Committee