Doha Singles Preview


(2)Roberto Bautista-Agut d. (3)Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3, 6-4

2, 3, 6, NS

SEEDS: ONE & DONE (1st Match Loss)
1 out of 8


*The 2022 was a weird reverse result of the 2021 final when an unseeded Basilashvili beat RBA for the title. Basilashvili’s unseeded title run was the first in Doha since 2018 when Gael Monfils did the trick. Bautista-Agut has made a good living at this stop with two titles and a runner-up finish in the last four years. The 2022 run ended a four year window where at least one unseeded player had made the Doha final. The 2021 Basilashvili win was the biggest underdog hit for a championship win in Doha at 4.07 (+307). Novak Djokovic had the last underdog win in the final in Doha back in 2017 at 2.22 (+122) when he beat top seeded Andy Murray.

*The 2022 final marked the third straight run in Doha that saw the final go down in straight sets. Despite that, there were eleven three set matches in 2022 out of 27 played. That marked the third time in the last four runs in Doha that double digit matches required three sets to settle in the tournament. The average is right around that ten to eleven range during that span. You can also find a decent hit percentage for these three set matches at the business end in Doha with three of the last four years seeing a trio of three set matches played out of the final seven each run.

*Underdog hits were few and far between last year in Doha with only six total. The largest came at 3.27 (+227) when Arthur Rinderknech knocked out (1)Denis Shapovalov in the quarterfinals. That was a fairly steep drop off from the ten dog hits in 2021 that included some substantial scores, mostly courtesy of Basilashvili’s unseeded title run. He had the three biggest wins at 5.10 (+410) when he KO’ed Roger Federer in the quarters, 4.07 (+307) over RBA in the final and 3.83 (+283) when he upended John Millman in the opening round.

*If you’re searching for a big dog score in Doha, it’s paid to wait until the end of the tournament in recent times. In 2019, Bautista-Agut beat (1)Djokovic at 4.89 (+389) in the semifinals. 2020 saw Corentin Moutet take out (1)Stan Wawrinka at 3.75 (+275) in the semifinals. 2021 saw five of the final six completed matches hit for the dogs with large wins all above 2.75 (+175) highlighted by the Basilashvii semifinal win over Federer at 5.10 (+410). And in 2022, the biggest dog score of the tournament came in the quarters with the Rinderknech win over Shapovalov at 3.27 (+227).

*The top seed in the tournament has been a victim in those late stages quite a bit. The number one seed in Doha has not made the final since Andy Murray in 2017. They have however been as far as the quarterfinals each year from 2018-2022, but cut down short of the final each time. Andrey Rublev is on the clock as the top seed and defending champion in 2022.


*The draw is top heavy in Doha with Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Daniil Medvedev all inside the top ten as your top three seeds. There are nine players inside the top 50 out of 27 with six inside the top 30. That’s not too shabby for a 250, but the star power is definitely with those top three with a red hot Medvedev leading the charge after winning the title in Rotterdam.

*Bautista-Agut might seem like a long shot to repeat as champion, but he has won here twice in the last four years. He is seeking to join Stefan Edberg, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic as the only players to win consecutive titles in Doha. Djokovic did it last in 2016 and 2017.

*In 2022, all four qualifiers dropped their opening round matches. That doesn’t mean qualifiers haven’t proven to be dangerous at this stop. In 2021, Lloyd Harris knocked out (7)Stan Wawrinka in round one as a qualifier. The biggest conquest for qualifiers came in 2020 when Corentin Moutet made it all the way to the final out of qualifying. That year also saw Marton Fucsovics take out (8)Frances Tiafoe in round one. That being said, it doesn’t look like any of this year’s qualifiers offer quite as much potential. I’d watch Dzumhur even though he draws a difficult assignment in Lehecka in round one. For me, he looks like the qualifier with the best shot at causing some problems.

*If you’re looking for the unseeded players who might have a shot to make that deep run, there look to be quite a few with a chance. I’d mainly look at the top half where Rublev, Zverev, Evans and van de Zadschulp all arrive without much form of late. The Griekspoor-Halys winner certainly is one to watch as they’ll match up against Rublev in round two. And you definitely want to keep an eye on who makes it out of that Sonego-Murray opening round clash. They will get into round two against an inconsistent Zverev. Lehecka could be one to watch as well if he can find his form on-the-fly and even though he’s in as a lucky loser and woefully short on form, Basilashvili has been to a pair of finals and a quarterfinal in his last three trips to Doha. Sometimes players just match up well with a particular tournament and maybe that’s the case for the Georgian in Doha.


*Tallon Griekspoor vs Quentin Halys
Griekspoor is off to a stellar start in 2023 at 10-2 with a title run in Pune and a good semifinal showing in Rotterdam this past week. Halys is just 6-6 this year, but he’s been competitive in most matches. Griekspoor will come in with the form and hype, but don’t sleep on Halys to make this a competitive match. Halys would probably have a better shot indoors where he’s done some of his best work, but he’s already shown improvement outdoors in 2023 with a win over Ben Shelton and competitive losses in Adelaide to Novak Djokovic and Auckland to Jenson Brooksby.

*Alejandro Davidovich Fokina vs Constant Lestienne
This might be a little under-the-radar for some, but I think this could be a real banger to start things in round one. ADF made the quarters in Doha a year ago, so he has points to defend. Lestienne did his best work in 2022 on this surface albeit with a lot of those wins at Challengers (25-6 combined). The Frenchman generally shows a good competitive spirit with two of the three match losses for him in 2023 seeing him take a set before losing.

*Aslan Karatsev vs Jason Kubler
Karatsev has lost his last three main draw matches at the ATP level after making the Pune semifinals early in the season. Kubler gets an opportunity to pick up a main level win outside of Australia where he’s won all four of his ATP level matches in 2023. He made a Challenger quarterfinal in Bahrain last week. This should be a solid baseline exchange sort of matchup between two guys who can really blast the ball when they’re in rhythm. I think it shapes up to be fairly entertaining and odds makers have it too close to call at basically a pick ’em line between the two.


Rublev ran into a bad matchup in round one last week in Rotterdam with Alex de Minaur beating him for the third time in four meetings. I’m not sure this week will yield a much better start for the top seed. Rublev could face an in-form Griekspoor first-up and I think that’s the tougher of the two potential foes between the Dutchman and Halys. The bottom half of this quarter looks wide open with Evans as the other seed. He draws Ruusuvuori to start. Evans has played just once since Australia and it was a surprising Davis Cup loss to Nicolas Mejia when Great Britain battled Colombia. Ruusuvuori only has two tour level wins in 2023, but could catch the Brit cold. You could definitely make a case for the survivor between Dzumhur and Lehecka to have just as good a shot as any to make it through to the quarterfinal. This is the start of the grind for Lehecka who is beginning his first full season where he’ll likely play exclusively in ATP level events. He looked great after Australia with two Davis Cup wins, so he could actually be looked at as the favorite in this section if he hits the ground running. I won’t be surprised to see Dzumhur put up a good fight since he has matches in conditions in Doha which can be different than a lot of stops.

I think this is all about whether or not Rublev can avoid the upset in his opener. For me that looks like the toughest spot for him. If he avoids that, his pedigree shows he knows how to win here with a semifinal, runner-up finish and title in his four years playing Doha. Otherwise the door opens for just about anyone in this quarter to make the run.

Griekspoor over (1)Rublev
Ruusuvuori over (6)Evans

Much like the first quarter, I think a lot of what plays out here will be dependent on who wins the Sonego-Murray match. Sonego is a much better matchup I think for Zverev in round two whereas Murray I think can really test the limits of what Zverev has to offer right now. In the bottom half, van de Zandschulp is the other seed. The Dutchman should have the edge in round one against Ivashka who hasn’t won a tour level match since 2022. He comes in with seven straight losses, four of them in round ones. The match opposite of that is interesting with qualifier Alexandre Muller against Basilashvili. Basilashvili is just 1-2 in main draw matches so far this season, while Muller has just one ATP level win in six tries. Realistically, the bottom half should be advantageous for (8)van de Zandschulp, but watch to see if Basilashvili gets that first win. As I said earlier, the Georgian plays well here more often than not even amid all of his problems the last few years.

If a seed goes through, I’m more inclined to look to van de Zandschulp. Zverev has yet to win back to back matches in 2023. For unseeded runners, Murray has to sit at the top of the list. The big question is if he can find his rhythm early enough to get going since this is his first match since Australia. The super long shot would be Basilashvili, but that’s all based mostly on his past history here and not on anything he’s shown in 2023. As a side note there – Basilashvili was in poor form in both 2021 and 2022 when he made the final here, so keep that in your cranium.

Murray over (4)Zverev

Daniil Medvedev arrives fresh off the Rotterdam title and perhaps rediscovering the form that brought him to the world number one spot a year ago. Certainly there could be a slight question as to whether or not he carries over that form, but anything close to this past week should easily push him through this section. This is however his Doha debut, so I’m intrigued to see how he handles the switch from indoors to Doha where winds can be a hassle. It likely won’t be enough to affect him against either Broady or Krutykh, but it might be something to keep in mind for later in the tournament. In the other half, the opening round could yield a good one with Bautista-Agut against Fucsovics. The question here is health after Fucsovics retired in Montpellier due to a foot issue. If healthy, then this could be a cracker of a first round match. RBA has done well in Doha traditionally, so I would still give the edge to him overall. The winner will be favored to get past either Verdasco or O’Connell in round two. This is a “home” stop for Verdasco who has a permanent residence in Doha. The first year he played here after making that change, he made the quarters in 2020. The 39-year-old is seeking his first main draw win of 2023.

You have to be a moron going against Medvedev after what we saw in Rotterdam, but it is a new week and every week is a new challenge on the ATP World Tour. Perhaps Bautista-Agut is the danger for him with the Spaniard owning a 4-2 mark against him in their careers, but Medvedev has won two of the last three. The last one in Astana last Fall was a crush job too, 6-1, 6-1.

Fucsovics over (5)Bautista-Agut

Auger-Aliassime plays Doha for the first time. His opener should be in his favor against Karatsev or Kubler, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy. He still looks a strong favorite in this quarter though Davidovich Fokina has battled him tough in two losses. Felix beat ADF in three on dirt last year in Rome and in four tie breaks at the Australian Open, also in 2022. Foki could have a battle on his hands to start with Lestienne. The Frenchman has been solid on hard courts, but again most of his best stuff has been at Challengers. It’s another chance for him to prove his mettle at the ATP level in that one. For me this could be the quarter most likely to see both seeds get into the quarterfinals. I do think Kwon is the one unseeded guy to watch in this section. The Adelaide-2 champion has a better path without having to go through Felix and has proven to be a tough out on hard courts.

All things being equal, this SHOULD be Felix’s semifinal spot to lose. Foki did make the quarters a year ago in Doha, so he knows these conditions and could at least put himself in position to make that a tougher ask. Auger-Aliassime looked like he was getting on a roll last week until he laid an egg against Medvedev who obviously was also playing at a superb level. That probably isn’t cause for concern until the semifinals where we could get that repeat matchup.

Lestienne over (7)Davidovich Fokina

If you’re a believer in Medvedev being “back” or at least something close to it, then seeing him at around 3.0 (+200) this week will be something to invest in for Doha. The matchups look advantageous in his half, so the worst case scenario for you might be seeing him in a final with a chance to hedge. Felix and Rublev are both in around 6.5 (+550) as co-favorites in the second spot with Zverev rated fourth best at 7.5 (+650). That’s not nearly enough for me on Zverev when he hasn’t pieced together consecutive wins in a while. Even with Rublev never having beaten him before, I’d rather look at Rublev than Zverev in that top half for those prices.

I am however looking at taking a deeper shot for one of the choices this week. I mean van de Zandschulp at 29.0 (+2800) seems a bit ridiculous, although I get it, since he’s never won an ATP title. Lehecka is being given the best outsider’s shot for the unseeded at 15.0 (+1400) with Andy Murray next at 17.0 (+1600). And if you want to take the super shot – how about Griekspoor around 41.0 (+4000)? If you’re a history buff, you can grab Basilashvili at 67.0 (+6600). There’s certainly plenty to choose from for those who want to take a shot at hitting it big in Doha.

Here’s my two choices for this week. Join me for the daily #PIGPIX and I’ll be doing a little tweet preview of the doubles field on Monday.

Medvedev 3.0 (+200)
Murray 17.0 (+1600)


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