World No.1 Novak Djokovic will kickstart his 2019 season with the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, which will be held from December 31, 2018 to January 5, 2019, at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha.
Djokovic, the 2018 Wimbledon and US Open champion, tops the entry list of star players which includes world No. 8 Dominic Thiem, Nikolov Basilashvili, David Goffin, Karen Khachanov and this year’s French Open semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato.
In all, 25 players made the entry list while three slots are allotted for wild card entrants and four for qualifiers.
The three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka, the defending finalist Andrey Rublev and the former world No. 4 Tomas Berdych, who has not been competing since June, are all in the alternates list and will probably make it to the main draw.
Of the 32 singles players and 16 doubles teams featuring in the six-day event, all eyes are definitely going to be on Djokovic, the 14 Grand Slam-winner, who will be returning to the tournament after pulling out of the 2018 event due to injury.
The 31-year-old Serb, who will be making an appearance in Doha for the fifth time, defeated former world No.1 Rafael Nadal for his maiden title in 2016. He followed it up with a three-set win over Britain’s Andy Murray in 2017 to claim a back-to-back triumph. He is also the absolute favourite this time around after having had an amazing second half of 2018.
Meanwhile for Goffin, the Doha event will be the Belgian’s first tour event when he returns from an injury.
The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up announced recently that he was shutting down his 2018 campaign due to an elbow injury. The 27-year-old last played at the Shenzhen Open – where he lost in his opening match at the tournament to three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray.
Goffin debuted at the Doha event in 2018 – when he beat Dutch Robin Haase in the first round, before losing to Spain’s Fernando Verdasco in the round-of-16.
Tournament Director Karim Alami said, “It is our pleasure to once again bring some of the world’s best players to Qatar at this year’s Qatar Exxon Mobil Open. Fans of the sport are, without any doubt, in for a week-long festival of top-notch tennis with unparalleled hospitality that we are well noted for. We look forward to welcoming all the players and the teeming fans to this year’s event which promises to be the best so far.”
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO 21) Nicolas Jarry (CHI 43) Roberto Agut Bautista (ESP 24), Karen Khachanov (RUS 11), Matteo Berrettini (ITA 54), Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER 35), Marco Cecchinato (ITA 20), Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ 53), Marius Copil (ROU 60), Dusan Lajovic (SRB 48), Novak Djokovic, (SRB 1), Feliciano Lopez (ESP 64), Damir Dzumhur (BIH 47), Adrian Mannarino (FRA 42), Marton Fucsovics (HUN 37), Guido Pella (ARG 58), Richard Gasquet (FRA 26), Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP 65), David Goffin (BEL 22), Andreas Seppi (ITA 38), Peter Gojowczyk (GER 59), Dominic Thiem (AUT 8), Robin Haase (NED 50), Fernando Verdasco (ESP 28), Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA 55)
Alternates: 1. Stan Wawrinka (SUI 66) 2. Elias Ymer (SWE 132) 3 Andrey Rublev (RUS 68)
© Gulf Times Newspaper 2019