It’s been a fascinating week of ATP tennis in Doha. Top players have flocked to the Middle East, with the winner’s trophy in mind.
Which players will come a step closer to the title and who will fall short during our first stop in the Middle Eastern swing? I give my best guesses!
ATP Doha Day 3 Predictions
Marton Fucsovics vs Soonwoo Kwon
Head to Head: 1-0 Kwon
Marton Fucsovics played a very good match to take down Lloyd Harris in straight sets to start off his Doha campaign. Fucsovics served very well, winning 84% of his first-serve points, and played solid tennis from the baseline. Soonwoo Kwon survived a tough three-setter against Christopher Eubanks in his first match in the Middle East. Kwon was very good on his first serve, winning 86% of first-serve points.
Kwon leads the head to head 1-0, although that match was on grass and not relevant to this match. Ultimately, dating back to Rotterdam last week, Fucsovics is serving well and is a wall from the baseline. The consistent depth he’s hitting with is impressive and he’s going to be on top of many baseline rallies in this match. Fucsovics moves on.
Prediction: Fucsovics in 2
Alexander Bublik vs Arthur Rinderknech
Head to Head: 1-0 Rinderknech
Alexander Bublik had a strong start to Doha, taking down Jozef Kovalik in straight sets. Bublik won 83% of his first serves and was only broken once during the match. Arthur Rinderknech recovered from a set deficit to beat Jiri Vesely in the first round of Doha. Rinderknech won 80% of his first serves and saved 10/11 break points during the match.
Rinderknech leads the head to head 1-0, but that win was via retirement, so I don’t put any stock in it. This will be a match with very few opportunities on return, as both Bublik and Rinderknech have huge serves. However, Bublik’s baseline game is more developed than Rinderknech’s and he has much more variety, so expect the Kazakh to come through in this match.
Prediction: Bublik in 3
Alex Molcan vs Denis Shapovalov
Head to Head: never played
Alex Molcan had a successful start to his week in Doha, taking out Christopher O’Connell from a set down. Molcan broke O’Connell six times and held the Aussie to 55% service points won. Denis Shapovalov struggled last week in Rotterdam, falling in straight sets to Jiri Lehecka. Shapovalov looked rusty in his first match post-Australia, winning only 37% of his second-serve points.
These two have never played before. Molcan is a crafty lefty who is willing to work points and has plenty of variety. However, Shapovalov has a lot more power and should be able to hit through Molcan’s defenses. In addition, Shapovalov’s big lefty serve will give him enough free points to fend off Molcan. Shapovalov will move on.
Prediction: Shapovalov in 2
Roberto Bautista Agut vs Andy Murray
Head to Head: 3-2 Murray
Roberto Bautista Agut is playing his first match of the week in Doha. In his last tournament, Marseilles, he fell in the quarterfinals to Alexander Bublik, with a horrible line call playing a huge factor in who won that match. Andy Murray started off Doha well, taking out Taro Daniel 6-2, 62. Murray’s first serve was firing, as he won 89% of his first-serve points. In addition, Murray won 57% of his return points during the match.
Murray leads the head to head 3-2, but they haven’t played since 2019, so I don’t think the head to head is relevant. Both players do a great job of maintaining consistent depth on their shots and this match will feature plenty of long rallies. But, Bautista Agut is the slightly fitter player at this stage in their careers and he does a slightly better job of maintaining control of the baseline. Expect Bautista Agut to sneak this match out and advance in Doha.
Prediction Bautista Agut in 3
Main Photo from Getty.