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Dominic Thiem lost just three points on his first serve in an opening-round victory at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open on Monday.

Thiem Tames Donskoy To Open 2018 Campaign

Verdasco claims final 10 games to battle to the second round

The first time Dominic Thiem played in the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in 2014, he was a 20-year-old qualifier who lost in the first round of the main draw against the No. 162 player in the ATP Rankings.

Just four years later, the Austrian is a star on the ATP World Tour and he showed it in his 7-6(3), 6-3 victory over Evgeny Donskoy on Monday. The top seed, who is now ranked No. 5, won a stunning 92 per cent of his first-serve points and overcame a strong performance by the Russian in the opening set to earn his first triumph of the new campaign.

“It was a good victory because [of a] tough opponent… after a pretty long period without any matches,” Thiem said. “After a good start, it got pretty close in the first set… at the end I'm satisfied with most parts of my game.”

Thiem will next face the winner between Aljaz Bedene and Malek Jaziri. He has beaten both players in their only FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings.

Seventh-seeded Fernando Verdasco appeared in jeopardy of beginning his 2018 in the opposite manner — with a thud. But a sudden shift in momentum saw the Spaniard run away with the final 10 games of his season opener to defeat Dudi Sela 4-6, 6-4, 6-0.

The Israeli broke Verdasco three times to clinch the opening set and earned breaks in each of the left-hander’s first three service games in the second set to take a commanding 4-2 lead. But after breaking back for 4-3, Verdasco battled through a 12-point game on his serve — saving two break points, which if converted would have allowed Sela to serve for the match — to completely turn the momentum, which eventually led to his victory.

Verdasco's next opponent will be 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals runner-up Andrey Rublev, who advanced to the second round when Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, who jumped 382 spots in the ATP Rankings last year, retired due to illness while trailing the Russian 1-6. The pair have split their two FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, with Verdasco winning more recently at the 2017 Rolex Paris Masters.

Wrapping up the day's play was #NextGenATP Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, who came back from down a break in the third set to defeat German Florian Mayer 4-6, 7-5, 6-4.

Top Doubles Seed Survives

It was certainly a thrilling start to the doubles campaign for Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, who saved two match points before defeating Marcin Matkowski and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi 3-6, 7-6(5), 10-5. The Polish-Pakistani pairing broke to serve for the match at 6-5 in the second set but could not convert on the opportunity.

The other seeded team in action Monday had less trouble, as third-seeded Feliciano Lopez and Rajeev Ram ousted wild cards Malek Jaziri and Mousa Shanan Zayed 7-5, 6-2 in 61 minutes.

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