The Qatar Open 2014 is the first biggest event of 2014 with 2 of the Big 4 players – Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray leading a host of talented top rankers including David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Richard Gasquet and Ernests Gulbis. Let’s jump into the draw straight away!
Rafael Nadal, opens his campaign against one of the biggest upset-makers in the history of our game, Lukas Rosol. Ever since, THAT Wimbledon loss 18months ago, Nadal and his fans have been waiting for an opportunity to level scores against the big man from Czech Republic. A lot has changed since then for both Nadal and Rosol and while Nadal had his ups and downs, Rosol has quietly built on his big win both individually and for his country. This will be the most anticipated match of the week and I expect Rosol to give Nadal a good fight, but Nadal should get his revenge in two tight sets. On the other side of this quarter, Ernests Gulbis and Lukasz Kubot will probably face-off for a chance to meet Nadal in the quarters.
Semi-finalist: Rafa Nadal. Gulbis being the dark-horse.
This is the Quarter of Death! Tomas Berdych, Ivo Karlovic, Ivan Dodig, Pablo Andujar and Philipp Kohlschreiber all in this quarter. I will be banking on Berdych to continue his new-found consistency here. That Berdych-Karlovic first rounder is going to be a throwback to the 90s match. I have picked and changed my semi-finalist a few times here, it is a toss-up really.
Semi-finalist: Tomas Berdych. Kohlschreiber being the dark-horse.
Wimbledon Champ’s Quarter
This is the Wimbledon Champion’s quarter. We all know who he is, don’t we? Andy Murray is making his way back from a back surgery and on evidence of his form in Abu Dhabi, his game is still not in top gear. I see this quarter as a great opportunity for Verdasco, who had Murray on the ropes in SW19 to make it deep. These is a very straight forward quarter and really is the best draw Murray and his fans could have asked for. If he has to make a statement for 2014, winning this title would be a strong message both to his fans and his opponents.
Semi-finalist: Fernando Verdasco. Murray being the dark-horse.
Another loaded quarter with Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet, Nikolay Davydenko (remember him?) and David Ferrer in this quarter. Richard Gasquet is one of the many top players who have gone shopping for ex-Grand Slam champions as coaches, during the off-season. With Bruguera on his side, I will be on the Gasquet bandwagon to make some serious noise this season. We always knew he had the flair and talent that French players seem to be born with, now he will add some serious Spanish work-ethic to it.
Semi-finalist: Richard Gasquet. Monfils being the dark-horse.
Semi-finals and Finals