Top guns to begin season in Qatar

December 26, 2013 - 12:41:14 pm

World No. 8 Richard Gasquet of France is greeted upon arrival at the Doha International Airport in Doha yesterday. Gasquet is in Qatar for the Qatar ExxonMobil Open 2014. The ATP Tour event takes palce at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex from December 30 to January 4. World No. 1 Rafael Nadal of Spain, compatriot and world No.3 David Ferrer, and 2013 Wimbledon champion Andy Murray of England are some of the top players who will be seen in action at the 22nd edition of the tournament. PICTURE BY: Abdul Basit  

by Armstrong Vas

Doha: World No. 9 Richard Gasquet of France arrived here yesterday as he bids to defend the title he won at last year’s Qatar ExxonMobil Open.

 The Frenchman rallied after from behind to defeat Nikolay Davydenko of Russia 3-6, 7-6, 6-3 to win the title last year.

The 27-year-old, who last month hired Sergi Bruguera to be his new coach,  will face stern opposition as he bids to retain the Doha title.

The Qatar event, which is into 22 edition, will be the starting point for 32 players on the ATP World Tour as they begin their 2014 season.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal (pictured) of Spain is one of the three players from the top-five who will compete in Qatar.

The Spaniard is set to make his sixth appearance in Doha, where he reached the final in 2010. 

The Spaniard is in the hunt for his 61st tour-level title, having lifted 10 trophies in 2013.

Nadal  had a dream run in 2013, after returning fom injury layoff, that saw him win 10 titles, including an eighth French Open and a second US Open.

The 27-year-old left hander did not feature in last year’s edition of the tournament. 

Suprisingly, the Spaniard has not won any title in Doha and thus will been seeking his first title in Qatar.

Nadal is Abu Dhabi for the three-day Mubadala World Championship which will begin today. 

Several of the top players are using the event as warm-up for the gruelling season ahead including former World No. 1 Novak Djokovic,  World No. 3 David Ferrer and Stanislas Wawrinka.

Also in action in Abu Dhabi is 2013 Wimbeldon champion Andy Murray, winner of  back-to-back Doha titles in 2008 and 2009, who  is also making the trip to Qatar.

For Murray, the Abu Dhabi event will help him gauge his level of fitness.

The Briton has not played a competitive match since the middle of September when he left the ATP Tour for back surgery.

The Olympic champion had been training in Miami before heading to Abu Dhabi. 

The other top players for the event include Ferrer and World No.7 Tomas Berdych.

Ferrer sprung the biggest surprise in the coaching merry-go-round last week. 

The 31-year-old separated from his coach of almost 15 years, Javier Piles, despite reaching his first Grand Slam final—the French Open—in 2013. 

The Spaniard embarks on his 12th year of Grand Slam with a new coach Jose Altur.

So this year’s players list includes multiple Grand Slam, ATP Masters 1000, and ATP World Tour titles, and Olympic medal winners.  Tickets for the Qatar ExxonMobil Open 2014 can be purchased online at www.qatartennis.org and at the following  places: Villaggio, City Center, Lagoona, Landmark and the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex.

The Peninsula

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