Nadal, Murray start season at Qatar Open

November 21, 2013 - 9:35:19 am

Spain’s Rafael Nadal (right) and compatriot David Ferrer pose with their French Open trophies at Roland Garros in this June 10, 2013 file photo. Nadal defeated Ferrer, to become the first man to capture the same Grand Slam title eight times. The World No.1 will begin the new season in Doha at the Qatar Open. The ATP World Tour’s 250 Series event will kick off at the Khalifa International Tennis Complex on December 30.

Doha: World No. 1 Rafael Nadal and Wimbledon champion Andy Murray will begin their new season at the 22nd Qatar ExxonMobil Open, it was  announced here yesterday.

 The ATP World Tour’s 250 Series event will kick off at the Khalifa International Tennis Complex on December 30.

Defending champion Richard Gasquet of France, compatriot Gael Monfils, last year’s semi-finalist David Ferrer of Spain and the Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych are some of the other big names to have confirmed for the event.

Nadal, a regular in Doha, had to pull out from last year’s event as he had not fully recovered from his knee injury. The 27-year-old, who lost to Novak Djokovic in the ATP World Tour final in England recently, will play the three-day exhibition event in Abu Dhabi before heading for Doha.

“I really hope that the events in Abu Dhabi and Doha give me a chance to prepare myself 100 per cent for the Australian Open,” said the 13-time Grand Slam winner recently.

Nadal’s best performance in singles in Doha is the runner-up finish to Nikolay Davydenko in the 2010.

“We’re delighted to have Rafael Nadal returning to Doha. He has been a favorite here for many years. This year, he comes back as world No. 1 after having had an incredible season. We look forward to watch him in action in Qatar,” said Tournament Director Karim Alami.

Two-time champion in Doha,  Murray is making a return to Qatar after four years and will be a big hit with the crowd. 

“Andy Murray looks to tie (Roger) Federer’s record of three Doha titles and Richard Gasquet is looking to defend his title from last year. David Ferrer is one of the toughest competitors out there and Thomas Berdych is coming to Doha for the first time. Gael Monfils is always a fan favorite,” added Alami.

Monfils reached the final two years back while Berdych is making his debut.

The rest of the field is a who’s who of well-known names, like fan favourite Fernando Verdasco and Doha regulars Nikolay Davydenko and Philipp Kohlschreiber, along with the tallest player on the ATP World Tour, Ivo Karlovic. 

The tournament has been a regular feature on the ATP calendar since its inception in 1993.

The Peninsula