DOHA, January 2, 2019
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic opened his 2019 season at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, marking the fifth time in six years and 11th time in 16 years that the top-ranked player on the ATP Tour competes in Doha. Djokovic previously played in the desert as the World No. 1 in 2015-16.
The 31-year-old from Serbia, who arrived from winning the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi last weekend, cruised past Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 6-2. Djokovic won 64 per cent of the total points played to advance in only 55 minutes. He will next take on Hungarian Marton Fucsovics.
New year, same @DjokerNole!
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) 1. Januar 2019
“To start off the tournament as I have tonight obviously makes me very, very confident and also very happy,” Djokovic said. “First day of the new year, I want to wish everyone a happy new year, lots of good emotions and lots of good tennis.”
No. 2 seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem lost to Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-3, 7-5. The 27-year-old Frenchman sent down six aces, winning 80 per cent of his first service points to secure victory in one hour and 25 minutes. Herbert will next play Maximilian Marterer of Germany.
Earlier on Tuesday, Stan Wawrinka, who had on-and-off injury concerns in 2018, but pulled himself up from a ranking low of No. 263 on 11 June to finish the season in the Top 70, knocked out No. 3 seed Karen Khachanov from Russia 7-6(7), 6-4. The 3-time Grand Slam champion saved all four break points he faced, capitalizing on of his own three chances to prevail after one hour and 42 minutes.
“I am really happy to be back in Doha. It was a great atmosphere here. I am looking forward to play another match tomorrow,” said Wawrinka during his on-court interveiw. It was the Swiss’ first match in Qatar since beating Ivan Ljubicic in the semi-finals 11 year ago.
“Players feel welcome here and it’s a pleasure to play here on this court.” Next up for Wawrinka will be Nicolas Jarry of Chile.