The first time Dominic Thiem played in the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in 2014, he was a 20-year-old qualifier who lost in the first round of the main draw against the No. 162 in the ATP Rankings.
Just four years later, the Austrian is a star on the ATP World Tour and he showed it in his 7-6(3), 6-3 victory over Evgeny Donskoy on Monday. The top seed, who is now ranked World No. 5, won a stunning 92 per cent of his first-serve points and overcame a strong performance by the Russian in the opening set to earn his first triumph of the new campaign.
“It was a good victory because [of a] tough opponent… after a pretty long period without any matches,” Thiem said. “After a good start, it got pretty close in the first set… at the end I'm satisfied with most parts of my game.”
Seventh-seeded Fernando Verdasco appeared in jeopardy of beginning his 2018 in the opposite manner — with a thud. But a sudden shift in momentum saw the Spaniard run away with the final 10 games of his season-opener to defeat Dudi Sela 4-6, 6-4, 6-0.
The Israeli broke Verdasco three times to clinch the opening set and earned breaks in each of the left-hander’s first three service games in the second set to take a commanding 4-2 lead. But after breaking back for 4-3, Verdasco battled through a 12-point game on his serve — saving two break points, which if converted would have allowed Sela to serve for the match — to completely turn the momentum, which eventually led to his victory.
2017 Next Gen ATP Finals runner-up Andrey Rublev advanced to the second round when Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, who jumped 382 spots in the ATP Rankings last year, retired due to illness while trailing the Russian 1-6.