It’s a busy old week with three ATP 250 events in Brisbane, Doha and Chennai. Here are my previews for Doha and Chennai. My ATP preview for Brisbane can be found HERE
Doha has attracted an excellent line-up this year with five of the worlds top ten in attendance. The big talking point from the draw was the number one seed, Rafael Nadal being drawn against 2012 Wimbledon slayer, Lukas Rosol. It is the first time they will play since that match and will be an interesting spectacle! The Spaniard could then face Ernests Gulbis in the quarter-finals; Gulbis twice pushed Nadal to three sets this year including a tremendous match at Indian Wells.
Nadal is projected to meet Tomas Berdych in the semi-finals. The Czech world number seven faces a testing opener against the huge, Ivo Karlovic who beat him at the back end of the 2013 season in Basel. There are some quality players in the draw, but the overall depth is slightly lacking. Andy Murray makes his official return to the ATP tour in the third quarter where he will play the world number 2099, Mousa Shanan Zayed in what should be a double bagel first round win.
The final quarter features David Ferrer, who will take on Alexandr Dolgopolov in the first round. Their last match was a frenetic five setter at Wimbledon so Dolgopolov can certainly give Ferrer a match. All in all, it’s a tough draw for Ferrer, who is likely to meet either Richard Gasquet or Gael Monfils in the quarter-finals. I don’t expect Ferrer to maintain his current ranking in 2014, but I think he will start the season convincingly in Doha. Murray needs matches before he will be anywhere near his best so I don’t think he’ll make it past the semi-finals.
1st Round Predictions: Nadal to beat Rosol in 2 sets, Berdych to beat Karlovic in 3 sets, Kohlschreiber to beat Andujar in 3 sets, Murray to beat Zayed in 2 sets (double bagel!), Monfils to beat Giraldo in 2 tight sets and Ferrer to beat Dolgopolov in 2 tight sets
Stanislas Wawrinka and Mikhail Youzhny are the top seeds in Chennai, India. Wawrinka, who lost both of his matches in the Abu Dhabi exhibition earlier this week, will play Benjamin Becker or Julian Reister in the second round and should comfortably make at least the semi-finals. Youzhny’s draw is equally favourable and he should go all the way to the final. The second quarter features Fabio Fognini and Vasek Pospisil. You never quite know which Fognini will turn up so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pablo Carreno-Busta start the season in fine form and knock out the Italian in the second round. Like Fognini, the Chennai-bound Benoit Paire is a complete mystery on the tennis court; he would be the favourite though to progress from the third quarter.
1st Round Predictions: Lu to beat Smyczek in 3 sets, Pospisil to beat Edmund in 2 tight sets, Roger-Vasselin to beat Ramos in 3 sets and Vesely to beat Nedunchezhiyan in 2 sets