Nadal Tested In Doha Opener
Former champion finishes strongly for three-sets win
Rafael Nadal fought back for a victory in his first singles match of the 2016 ATP World Tour season.
Avoiding the fate of 2015 champion David Ferrer, who bowed out earlier Tuesday at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, Nadal prevailed against Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-1 in two hours. The second seed capitalised on five of his nine break point chances for his 20th match win at this ATP World Tour 250 event.
“I had chances in the beginning of the match [and] I couldn't convert,” said Nadal. “I think I changed a little bit at the beginning of the second [set]… I'm very happy [with] the way that I managed to change the dynamic of the match, and I think I finished the match playing well.”
The World No. 5 is looking to claim his first hard-court title since his triumph two years ago in Doha (d. Monfils). He next faces Dutchman Robin Haase.
Fernando Verdasco, who teamed up with Nadal on Monday in a first-round doubles loss, edged Tunisian wild card Malek Jaziri 7-6(4), 7-6(4) to set a second-round date with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic. Verdasco trails Djokovic 4-7 in the FedEx ATP Head2Head series.
Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu will take a 2-2 FedEx Head2Head record into his next match against countryman Jeremy Chardy, the No. 7 seed. Mathieu saved one match point in a 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(7) victory over Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis came from behind in his first-round match to oust sixth seed Andreas Seppi 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in two hours and eight minutes. He created 19 break point chances and converted seven times.