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Tennis • Ricky’s Preview And Picks For The First ATP Event of 2020 In Doha

By Ricky Dimon

With Brisbane having been usurped by the ATP Cup and Pune moving to the February swing, Doha is the lone traditional tournament this upcoming week. Although most of the top players are battling for team glory in Brisbane, Sydney, and Perth, a strong field is still on hand for this 250-point event.

Qatar ExxonMobil Open

Where: Doha, Qatar
Surface: Hard
Top seed: Stan Wawrinka
2018 champion: Roberto Bautista Agut (not playing)

You have to go all the way down to No. 16 in the world to find the top-ranked player in Doha, but the draw is deep if not top heavy. Wawrinka may have to get past Jeremy Chardy and either Bublik or Adrian Mannarino just to reach the semifinals. Also lurking in the top half of the draw are Raonic, Verdasco, Filip Krajinovic, and Kyle Edmund. Krajinovic and Edmund are going head-to-head right off the bat with the winner likely to face Verdasco in round two.

Rublev enjoyed a healthy and resurgent 2019 campaign, so he will be a trendy title pick in Doha. The 23rd-ranked Russian finds himself in a softer bottom half of the bracket, although Mikhail Kukushkin could be a tough out in the second round. Potential semifinal opponents for Rublev are Tsonga, Tiafoe, Miomir Kecmanovic, and Jordan Thompson. Kecmanovic vs. Thompson is one of the most intriguing openers.

First-round upset possibility: Lorenzo Sonego over (5) Laslo Djere. Djere was one of the breakout stars of the 2019 clay-court Golden Swing, but he mostly imploded the rest of the season when he had to spend the majority of his time on hard courts. Sonego, on the other hand, is an all-court player who even won a grass-court tournament in Antalya last summer (beat Kecmanovic in the final). The Italian is better suited for a relatively fast hard court, so this really would not be much of an upset.

Semifinal picks: Stan Wawrinka over Filip Krajinovic and Andrey Rublev over Miomir Kecmanovic

Final: Rublev over Wawrinka

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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