By Sports Reporter Doha
Andy Murray finished 2016 as world number one and will be looking to further cement his spot at the top of the rankings as 2017 kicks off. Novak Djokovic is hot on his heels and with both of them taking part in the Qatar ExxonMobi Open, a clash in the final will make it a great start to the season.
But newly-knighted Murray will have to overcome the hurdle of either Tomas Berdych or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semi-final if he is to set up a final clash with Djokovic. Berdych is ranked 10th while Tsonga is 12th. Murray has defeated Tsonga 14 times out of their 16 meetings. However, Berdych is a tougher opponent with the Brit having won 10 matches as compared to six in favour of Berdych. Although it must be mentioned that Murray has won six of their recent clashes.
Murray will face Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in his opening round. The world no. 1 has a strong record against Chardy (8-1), who is currently ranked 69th. If he clears the first hurdle he could face world no. 32 Philipp Kohlschreiber in the quarter-final.
Djokovic, in the bottom half of the draw, starts off against world no. 63 Jan-Lennard Struff. Next up could be Marcos Baghdatis, who is currently ranked 36th. The 6’11” Ivo Karlovic, ranked 20th, is a possible semi-final opponent.
Karlovic has defeated Djokovic in the quarter-finals in Doha during the 2015 edition. Baghdatis, meanwhile has never managed to defeat Djokovic. All in all, a quick glance would make you believe that the defending champion Djokovic has an easier half as compared to Murray. But this is the first tournament of the year. So there’s no telling who’s more prepared. We will find out soon enough.
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