David Ferrer will begin his week in Doha on Tuesday with a tough first-rounder on his hands against Alexandr Dolgopolov. Ernests Gulbis and Daniel Evans are also in action.
Alexandr Dolgopolov vs. (2) David Ferrer
Dolgopolov and Ferrer will be squaring off for the eighth time in their careers when they do battle in round one of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open on Tuesday. Ferrer is dominating the head-to-head series 6-1, including 4-0 on hard courts. Their most recent encounter was arguably their most memorable, with the Spaniard prevailing 6-7(6), 7-6(2), 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 in the third round of Wimbledon last summer.
Down at No. 57 in the world, Dolgopolov is a player from whom you have no idea what to expect on any given day. That is especially the case after two months off following a mostly lackluster season. Ferrer, on the other hand, is still third in the rankings and he beat Rafael Nadal at last week’s Abu Dhabi tune-up before falling to Novak Djokovic in the final. The 31-year-old generally starts his seasons in fine form and there is no reason to expect otherwise in this one.
Pick: Ferrer in 2
(Q) Daniel Evans vs. (7) Ernests Gulbis
Like Dolgopolov, Gulbis is a mercurial performer–to put it mildly. After several underachieving years, he was relatively consistent in 2013. Gulbis, a champion in Delray Beach and a fourth-round finisher in Indian Wells as a qualifier, is back up to No. 24 in the world.
Up first for Gulbis in what could be a make-or-break 2014 campaign for him is Evans, whom he has never faced. Evans made a name for himself last summer by qualifying for the U.S. Open and advancing to the third round with wins over Kei Nishikori and Bernard Tomic. The 23-year-old Brit struggled in the fall, but he already has three matches under his belt this week having gone through Doha qualifying. Sound the upset alert.
Pick: Evans in 3