(MENAFN - The Peninsula) By Armstrong Vas | The Peninsula
Doha: Grand Slams star Stan Wawrinka - seeking to bounce back to top-10 - faces an uphill task to his Qatar Open campaign as top seed Novak Djokovic, the 2018 Wimbledon and US Open champion, was yesterday handed a relatively easy draw.
The former World No.3 from Switzerland, a runner-up at the 2008 edition, faces World No.11 Karen Khachanov of Russia in the first round tie while World No. 1 Djokovic starts his Qatar campaign against No. 26 Damir Dzumhur from Bosnia.
The draw ceremony for the ATP World Tour 250 series tournament which kicks off from tomorrow at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex was held yesterday. The event ends on January 5, 2019.
Wawrinka, who underwent two surgeries to treat a knee cartilage injury in August 2017 had slipped to ATP Rank of 263 in June but has since bounced back to 66.
Wawrinka has shown that he is well on his way to returning to his very best and he will keen to do well in Doha.
Throughout 2018, Wawrinka has remained optimistic, saying repeatedly that he believes that eventually he will find his best tennis and looks set to come out firing in 2019.
Wawrinka along with Czech Tomas Berdych is one of the two star players who arrived early in Doha to get use to the local conditions.
Djokovic, tops the entry list of star players at this year's event and will be joined by the likes Dominic Thiem of Austria, Nikolov Basilashvili of Georgia, David Goffin of Belgium, Italian Marco Cecchinato, Spaniards Roberto Bautista Agut and Fernando Verdasco, who are the seeded players at the $1.4m tournament.
Second seed Thiem will face World No. 55 Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France, who is making his Doha debut. The Frenchman is looking forward to the challenge of facing Thiem.
'Yes I do have a tough draw. Not easy to play the second seed in the first round. Dominic (Thiem) is an amazing player, he finished the year among the top ten, so a tough opponent to beat but i am looking forward to this match and will give my best, Herbert said yesterday.
Herbert said he is determined to give his best in the new season and notch his first ATP title.
'Last year I came close to winning the title. Hopefully I will win my first ATP Tour title this season. Last season was amazing in the terms of rankings and I want to build on the success in the new season, he added.
Meanwhile, Marius Copil of Romania will square up against Marton Fucsovics of Hungary with the winner taking on Djokovic. Copil, one of the four players present for yesterday's draw ceremony, said facing his double partner and friend Fucsovics will be a ‘tough task'.
'We were a few hours late in registering as a double pair in Qatar so we would not be playing together the doubles. We had to switch partners for the double event in Qatar. We will be together as a pair for the Australian Open, Copil said.
Qatar ExxonMobil Open, which has featured some of the biggest name in tennis down the years, is seen as the curtain raiser for the ATP tour.