Top duo Djokovic and Murray relishing prospect of launching their Australian Open preparations in Qatar
It’s the start of the tennis season and players are picking the best route to get themselves ready for the first Grand Slam of the year. Roger Federer has gone to Perth to restart his career. Rafael Nadal has gone to Brisbane. But the top two players of the world have picked Qatar ExxonMobil Open, believing that this is the perfect launch pad for the new season.
“Every single year, you get at least a couple of players among the top-5 in the world. You have at least 4-5 players from the top-10. That says enough about what I personally, and we all as players, feel about this tournament. It’s a great way to start off the season and have kind of a lead-up to Australian Open,” said Novak Djokovic during his press conference yesterday.
“Now it’s the third year in a row I’m starting my season in Qatar. I am really pleased to start off the year in this tournament that has now traditionally for some time been voted the best in its category,” he added.
World No. 1 Andy Murray has also opted to start with Qatar and with past winners doing well in the Australian Open, the Brit wants to benefit from that record. “This has worked well for a lot of the guys in the past and they have gone on to do well in the Australia Open. You can obviously fly direct pretty much to Melbourne from here. It’s very convenient, I think especially for the players from Europe,” said Murray yesterday.
“I played here in the past and I liked it and played well,’ he added.
“The organisers have been really trying to make sure that every player feels at home. The facilities are great. The hotel is of very high-quality. You also have the beach.”
The defending champion was also all praise for the crowd that turned up to watch the stars in action. “The people that come to the stands — it’s very international crowd. They already know tennis. They’re knowledgeable about the sport. It’s definitely a lot of fun and a joy to perform in front of such crowd,” said Djokovic who will be seen in action today against German Jan-Lennard Struff.
This is the 25th anniversary of the tournament and Djokovic said that the tournament has showcased the tradition of sport in Qatar.
“This tournament was organized for the first time in 1993 and so it has already a long culture and tradition of tennis. Qatar as a country has already nurtured the passion, understanding and love for this sport,” said the 29-year-old.
The defending champion also praised the high-class facilities in Qatar. “The stadium is fantastic. We have Aspire and Aspetar facilities if they are needed. It’s one of the best sports medical facilities I’ve seen in my life,” said Djokovic.
The battleground has been chosen. Let the action begin.
ORDER OF PLAY
CENTRE COURT (start 3:30pm)
D. Marrero (ESP) / N. Zimonjic (SRB) vs M. Fyrstenberg (POL) / A. Murray (GBR)
Not Before 5:30pm
J. Struff (GER) vs  N. Djokovic (SRB)
R. Haase (NED) vs  D. Goffin (BEL)
[Q] V. Pospisil (CAN) vs F. Verdasco (ESP)
COURT 1 (start 3:30pm)
[WC] A. Yuksel (TUR) vs J. Vesely (CZE)
P. Lorenzi (ITA) vs N. Almagro (ESP)
 M. Baghdatis (CYP) vs [Q] R. Stepanek (CZE)
COURT 2 (start 3:30pm)
F. Bagnis (ARG) vs D. Brown (GER)
H. Zeballos (ARG) vs F. Mayer (GER)
[WC] A. De Greef (BEL) vs [Q] M. Safwat (EGY)
COURT 3 (start 3:30pm)
 D. Inglot (GBR) / F. Mergea (ROU) vs K. Khachanov (RUS) / A. Kuznetsov (RUS)
[WC] M. Jaziri (TUN) / M. Zayid (QAT) vs J. Chardy (FRA) / F. Martin (FRA)
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