They changed sports and surfaces, switching from a football pitch to a tennis court. But on Wednesday at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, the outcome was the same when Dominic Thiem and Aljaz Bedene faced off in the second round in Doha.
As Thiem's football team did during the off-season, the Austrian outplayed the Slovenian, advancing to the quarter-finals of his first tournament of the 2018 season, 7-5, 6-4.
Thiem had plenty of opportunities in the early-evening match, earning 15 break points, including 10 in the second set, against Bedene, who now plays for Slovenia after switching from Great Britain last month. But Thiem converted only three of those break-point opportunities.
Still, he was pleased to improve to 2-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. “First set was good I converted break points fine,” said Thiem, who was two-for-five on break points in the opener. “But second set I think I missed too many chances... In general I'm very happy.”
Thiem will next face Frenchman Richard Gasquet or #NextGenATP Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, who play the final evening match on Wednesday.
Read More: Tsitsipas Focused On Key Targets In 2018
In 2017, #NextGenATP Andrey Rublev didn't reach a quarter-final until June, at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle. But three days into the new year, the Russian has already advanced to his first ATP World Tour quarter-final of 2018.
Rublev improved to 2-1 against Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, beating the seventh seed 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. The 20-year-old Rublev saved seven of 11 break points, and will next meet Croatia's Borna Coric.
The 21-year-old Coric, who knocked out second seed and World No. 10 Pablo Carreno Busta in the first round, routed Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili, 6-1, 6-3. Coric broke five times and won 54 per cent of his return points (32/59).