Murray, Djokovic On Doha Collision Course
There will be fireworks on and off the court this week in Doha, as the calendar flips to the New Year at the star-studded Qatar ExxonMobil Open. With the 2017 ATP World Tour season set to commence, familiar foes Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are poised to pick up where they left off to conclude 2016.
Djokovic, who was dethroned as year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings by Murray at the ATP Finals, will be seeking revenge in the Qatari capital. The longtime rivals could face off in the final, which would be their first encounter at an ATP World Tour 250 event. With only 630 points separating them atop the Emirates ATP Rankings, the battle for No. 1 will be hotly contested to open the new season.
Murray carries an 8-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head edge into his first-round encounter against Jeremy Chardy, with either Gerald Melzer or Paul-Henri Mathieu potentially waiting next. Fellow Top 10 player Tomas Berdych and World No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga could loom large in the semi-finals. Murray, who owns a 15-2 mark in four trips to Doha, will be looking to his extend his career-best 24-match win streak.
Djokovic, meanwhile, will face Jan-Lennard Struff for the first time in his opener. The 26-year-old German is eyeing Top 10 wins in back-to-back tournaments, having notched his first at the BNP Paribas Masters in November, defeating Stan Wawrinka in a deciding tie-break. Djokovic could face either Horacio Zeballos or Florian Mayer in the second round, with David Goffin, Marcos Baghdatis and Ivo Karlovic the other seeds in his half of the draw.
Djokovic, Murray and Tsonga are former champions returing to Doha this year. Murray claimed back-to-back titles in 2008-09, while Tsonga prevailed in 2012 with victory over Gael Monfils, and Djokovic is the defending champion after defeating Rafael Nadal last year.
In other action, Karen Khachanov will look to kick off his quest to qualify for the Next Gen ATP Finals, opening against local wild card Mubarak Shannan Zayid. The 20-year-old Moscow native soared to a year-end position of No. 53 in the Emirates ATP Rankings after clinching his maiden ATP World Tour title at the Chengdu Open in early October. The season-long Emirates ATP Race to Milan will see the world’s best up-and-coming talents battle to qualify for the exclusive tournament in November. Learn More