The Djokovic brothers are on the board. Novak Djokovic and Marko Djokovic celebrated the end of 2018 with their first doubles win as a team on Monday at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open.
The Djokovics beat fellow wild cards Cem Ilkel of Turkey and Qatar’s Mubarak Shannan Zayid 6-3, 3-6, 10-6. The brothers first played together 11 years ago and lost their first five matches – at 2007 Umag, 2008 Bangkok, 2009 Umag, 2011 Dubai and 2013 Dubai.
They’ll play for a spot in the semi-finals against Damir Dzumhur/Dusan Lajovic, who upset top seeds Oliver Marach/Mate Pavic 6-4, 1-6, 10-7.
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Second seeds Jamie Murray/Bruno Soares also fell in their opener, losing to Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics and Guido Pella of Argentina 6-3, 6-4.
The star-studded team of Russian Karen Khachanov and Swiss Stan Wawrinka couldn’t make it out of the first round, either, falling 7-5, 6-3 to Belgian David Goffin and Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France. Goffin/Herbert will meet Nikola Mektic/Alexander Peya in the quarter-finals. Mektic/Peya dismissed Marius Copil/Horia Tecau 6-4, 7-6(4).
World number five Juan Martin del Potro will miss the Australian Open in January as he continues his recovery from a fractured kneecap.
The Argentine, 30, sustained the injury in a heavy fall at the Shanghai Masters in October.
“Recovery is going great and I will tell you later where I will be making my comeback,” the 2009 US Open champion said on social media.
“It won’t happen in Australia, but I’m happy with my progress.”
Del Potro has been plagued by injuries since winning his only Grand Slam, and has had three operations on a wrist problem, which left him struggling to use his backhand.
But he had a successful 2018, beating Roger Federer to claim the BNP Paribas Open title at Indian Wells in March, before reaching the semi-finals of the French Open, the last eight at Wimbledon and the final of the US Open, where he was beaten by Novak Djokovic.
Basilashvili, Bautista Agut, Verdasco move into second round
Former World No. 4 Tomas Berdych returned to the ATP Tour for the first time in six months on Monday and opened his 2019 campaign with a 6-4, 7-6(5) first-round victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany in one hour and 42 minutes at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open. Czech wild card Berdych, who went 11-11 in 2018 before ending his year in June due to a back injury, will next play eighth-seeded Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in Doha.
Verdasco, the 2017 semi-finalist (l. to Djokovic), won 83 per cent of his first-service points and struck nine aces to beat lucky loser Paolo Lorenzi of Italy 6-3, 6-4 in 89 minutes to join fellow Spaniard — seventh seed Roberto Bautista Agut — in the second round. Bautista Agut avenged his loss to Italian Matteo Berrettini in last year’s Gstaad final with a 6-1, 6-4 first-round win over 69 minutes.
Elsewhere, fifth-seeded Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili lost five of his first-service points in beating Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-1, 1-6, 6-1 in one hour and 38 minutes. Chile’s Nicolas Jarry, making his tournament debut, scraped past Robin Haase of the Netherlands 6-7(7), 6-4, 7-6(4) in two hours and 38 minutes.
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Tennis greats Roger Federer and Serena Williams will meet on court for the first time at the Hopman Cup on Tuesday when Switzerland face the USA in Perth.
They will play in men’s and women’s singles rubbers before meeting in the mixed doubles alongside partners Belinda Bencic and Frances Tiafoe.
Federer and Williams, both 37, have won a combined 43 Grand Slam titles.
“It is very exciting for both of us and I hope a lot of tennis fans tune in and watch it,” said Federer.
Williams said it was “like a dream come true”. She added: “I have been looking forward to it. This is so cool.”
The match has been described as the most anticipated contest involving a male and female player since the “Battle of the Sexes” in 1973, when 39-time Grand Slam champion Billie Jean King beat former men’s world number one Bobby Riggs in straight sets.
Despite their concurrent careers, Federer said it would be an “exaggeration” to say he knew Williams well.
“I admire everything she’s done on and off the court, we are both fierce competitors and we always want to win,” he said.
“It is going to be one time, probably never again. She is one of the biggest champions in our sport ever – men and women combined – so it is great to be playing against her.”
The Hopman Cup comprises two singles and a mixed doubles match between nations in a round-robin format with two groups of four. The winners of each group will contest Saturday’s final.
Federer and Bencic beat Britain’s Cameron Norrie and Katie Boulter in their opening round-robin tie, while the USA lost to Greece on Monday despite Williams winning her singles tie.
Switzerland are the defending champions, Federer and Bencic having won the event in Perth in January 2018.
Scouting Report: 30 Things To Watch In Brisbane, Doha & Pune
An executive summary of what every fan should know about the coming week on the ATP Tour
It’s the moment everyone has been waiting for: the start of the 2019 ATP Tour season. Five of the Top 10 players in the ATP Rankings are in action this week at a trio of ATP 250 events. Rafael Nadal leads the way at the Brisbane International, Novak Djokovic headlines the field at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, and Kevin Anderson is the top seed at the Tata Open Maharashtra.
Draws: Brisbane | Doha | Pune
10 THINGS TO WATCH IN BRISBANE 1) The Champs are Here: Former champions Nick Kyrgios (2018), Grigor Dimitrov (2017), Milos Raonic (2016) and Andy Murray (2012-13) return to the Queensland Tennis Centre this week for the Brisbane International.
2) Rafa’s Return: The No. 1 seed in Brisbane is World No. 2 Nadal. Knee, abdominal and ankle injuries have sidelined the Spaniard since 7 September, when he retired in the US Open semi-finals against Juan Martin del Potro. Nadal is appearing in Brisbane for the second time after falling to Raonic in the 2017 quarter-finals. Only one of Nadal’s 80 championships have come in Australia. Nadal edged Roger Federer in five sets to capture the Australian Open title 10 years ago.
3) Special Kei: After falling to No. 39 in the ATP Rankings on 2 April, Kei Nishikori soared towards the end of 2018 to year-end No. 9. The Japanese superstar reached two finals, two semi-finals and two quarter-finals in his final six regular-season events. He is seeking his first ATP Tour title since Memphis in February 2016.
4) First Time for Everything: In 2018 alone, 23-year-old Kyle Edmund broke into the Top 15 of the ATP Rankings, earned the four biggest wins of his career, captured his first ATP Tour title at Antwerp and advanced to his first Grand Slam semi-final and ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final.
5) Russian Rising: Who led the ATP Tour in hard-court wins last season? The surprising answer is Daniil Medvedev, who earned 38 victories and three titles on hard courts. All three of Medvedev’s championship wins came against opponents playing on home soil. He defeated Alex de Minaur in the Sydney final, Steve Johnson in the Winston-Salem final and Nishikori in the Tokyo final.
6) No. 1 Aussie: One year ago, De Minaur entered the Brisbane International as a 208th-ranked wild card. De Minaur’s semi-final run in Brisbane started a sensational season that saw him reach his first two ATP Tour finals, achieve a new career-high ATP Ranking 18 times and earn ATP Newcomer of the Year honours. The 19-year-old from Sydney returns as the No. 1 Aussie and World No. 31.
7) Homecoming King: Three Aussies are ranked in the Top 40 — De Minaur, Kyrgios and Brisbane’s own John Millman. The 29-year-old Millman comes home after causing one of the biggest upsets of 2018. Millman reached the US Open quarter-finals by defeating Federer, a five-time champion.
8) Comeback Trail: World No. 256 Jo Wilfried-Tsonga and the 257th-ranked Murray are using protected rankings to compete in Brisbane. Tsonga underwent left knee surgery and Murray had right hip surgery last season. But the two stars have combined to win 61 tour-level titles, and were inside the world’s Top 10 at the same time as recently as 10 July 2017, so expect them both to begin their climb towards the top of the sport.
9) Aussie, Aussie, : The three main draw wild cards went to home talents as 26-year-old James Duckworth, 25-year-old Alex Bolt, and 19-year-old Alexei Popyrin will compete in the event. Duckworth made the Brisbane quarter-finals in 2015 before falling to eventual titlist Federer.
10) Together Again: The winningest doubles team in ATP Tour history will reunite in Brisbane when twin brothers Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan team up for the first time since May. Bob had right hip surgery last summer, while Mike went on to win the Nitto ATP Finals and two Grand Slam titles with Jack Sock.
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10 THINGS TO WATCH IN DOHA 1) No. 1 Choice: World No. 1 Djokovic opens the 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 Doha as the World No. 1 in 2015-16. Murray (2017), Nadal (2009, 2011, 2014), Federer (2005-06, 2010) and Andy Roddick (2004) are former World No. 1s who were atop the ATP Rankings while competing in Doha.
2) Dream Finish: Djokovic ended the 2018 season on a 39-4 run, winning four championships, reaching three other finals and rising from No. 22 to No. 1. The 31-year-old broke Nadal’s 2017 record by becoming the oldest year-end No. 1 in ATP Rankings history (since 1973). The Serb has been superb in Doha with a 12-1 record and title victories over Nadal in 2016 and Murray in 2017.
Watch Highlights Of Djokovic’s 2017 Victory In Doha:
3) Dominant Dominic: Also returning to Doha is Dominic Thiem, who conceded a walkover to eventual champion Gael Monfils in the 2018 Qatar ExxonMobil Open semi-finals. The Austrian recovered well from a viral infection in Doha, qualifying for his third Nitto ATP Finals after reaching his second ATP Masters 1000 final at Madrid and his first Grand Slam championship match at Roland Garros.
4) Next Big Thing: Karen Khachanov ended Djokovic’s 22-match win streak on 4 November and defeated three other Top 10 players to capture the ATP Masters 1000 Paris title. Khachanov’s fourth career trophy allowed him to finish the season at a career-high No. 11 in the ATP Rankings. The 22-year-old Russian posted 46 victories in 2018 and won ATP 250 titles at Marseille and Moscow.
5) Karen & Stan: The first major ‘popcorn’ match of the year comes in the first round in Doha, as Khachanov will face former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka. The pair competed for the first time just months ago in St. Petersburg, with Wawrinka winning two tie-breaks.
6) Italian Invasion: Three Italians are in the Doha draw, led by World No. 20 and two-time ATP Tour champion Marco Cecchinato. Joining Cecchinato is 22-year-old Matteo Berrettini, who won his first ATP Tour title at Gstaad in July. Italy’s elder statesman is 37th-ranked Andreas Seppi, who turns 35 next month. Seppi has finished 14 straight seasons inside the Top 100 of the year-end ATP Rankings.
7) Pride of Georgia: Nikoloz Basilashvili won not one, but two ATP 500 titles in 2018 to become the first champion from Georgia on the ATP Tour. The Hamburg and Beijing champ earned a personal-best 29 victories overall in 2018 to finish the season at a career-high No. 21 in the ATP Rankings.
8) Tomas’ Comeback: Tomas Berdych has been a stalwart toward the top of the ATP Rankings for years, finishing inside the year-end Top 20 every season from 2006-17. But the Czech suffered from a back injury that kept him out after the Fever-Tree Championships. Now, Berdych is ready to mount his ascent back toward the upper echelons of his game, beginning in Doha.
9) Goffin Returns: After ending 2017 at a career-high No. 7, David Goffin missed four weeks due to an eye injury and five weeks due to a right elbow injury last season. Now ranked outside of the Top 20, the 5-foot-11 Belgian will play his first match since September as he begins his push for a return to the high level that helped him reach the championship match of the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals.
10) No. 1s Return: Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic, the 2018 year-end No. 1 ATP Doubles Team, began last season in Doha, winning the title. They’d eventually start the year 17-0 and qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals. The Austrian-Croatian team is back again in Qatar as the top seeds.
10 THINGS TO WATCH IN PUNE 1) Pune 2.0: The Tata Open Maharashtra — India’s only ATP Tour event — returns to Pune for the second year in a row, and No. 1 seed Anderson will once again open his season there. Last year, Anderson rebounded from a loss in the Pune final to Gilles Simon by reaching his second Grand Slam final at Wimbledon and qualifying for the year-end Nitto ATP Finals for the first time.
2) South African Ace: Anderson made history for Africa in 2018 as the top player from the continent since ATP Rankings were established in 1973. The 6’8” South African reached a career-high No. 5 after advancing to the Wimbledon final. Anderson beat Roger Federer 13-11 in the fifth set of the Wimbledon quarter-finals and John Isner 26-24 in the fifth set of the semi-finals.
3) Defending Champion: Simon went 8-1 overall in his Indian debut last season. The former World No. 6 swept Marin Cilic and Anderson en route to his first ATP Tour singles title since 2015. Simon also made his first-ever doubles final in Pune with fellow Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
Watch Highlights Of Simon’s Victory:
4) Chung’s Challenge: Coming off the 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals title, Hyeon Chung was one of the hottest players on the ATP Tour to start the 2018 season. He beat Alexander Zverev and Djokovic en route to the Australian Open semi-finals, then reached back-to-back ATP Masters 1000 quarter-finals in Indian Wells and Miami. He will look to get off to another good start in 2019, pursuing his first tour-level trophy in Pune.
5) 40-Love: Ivo Karlovic, 6’11”, returns to India for the first time in a decade. The Croat, who turns 40 on 28 February, became the oldest champion in ATP Challenger Tour history when he won the title in Calgary, Canada, in October. Karlovic is the oldest player in the ATP Rankings at No. 100.
6) Generation Gap: Karlovic, the oldest player in the draw by half a decade, will meet the youngest player in the draw in the first round. Eighteen-year-old Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime made it through qualifying as the top seed, and will take on Karlovic in the main draw. Auger-Aliassime reached his first ATP Tour quarter-final just months ago in Chengdu.
7) Meteoric Rise: Following his third right elbow surgery, Pablo Andujar of Spain ended the 2017 season tied for 1,701st in the ATP Rankings. After winning the Marrakech title and three ATP Challenger Tour championships, Andujar completed a 1,619-spot rise to end 2018 at No. 82.
8) Guess Who’s Back: Also returning to the Top 100 late last season was former World No. 10 Ernests Gulbis. The Latvian qualified at Stockholm in October en route to his first ATP Tour final in more than four years. Gulbis will be unseeded again when he makes his Indian debut this week.
9) Home Team: Four Indian players will contest the singles main draw at Pune, as qualifier Saketh Myneni joins wild cards Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Ramkumar Ramanathan, and Arjun Kadhe in the first round. Gunneswaran made his ATP Tour main draw debut at Stuttgart in June, and won his first two ATP Challenger Tour titles in 2018 to finish the year ranked just outside of the Top 100. Ramanathan made the final in Newport (l. to Johnson).
10) Living Legend: Six-time Chennai doubles champion Leander Paes of India joins seven of his compatriots in the doubles draw. The 45-year-old Paes won at least one tour-level doubles title each year from 1997-2015. Paes teams in Pune with Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela of Mexico, his exclusive partner since September.