Doha has always been the place to kick off the season for the top guys.
Over the past 10 years we have seen Federer, Djokovic, Nadal, Murray and more recently Monfils and Agut win ahead of the Australian Open but now the Qatar ExxonMobil Open organisers will be worried with at least 27 of the top 30 confirmed for the ATP Cup including all of the top 10.
Stan Wawrinka looks like he could head to Doha. As second highest ranked Swiss player he would have been confirmed but Laaksonen is instead looking like Stan won’t play there.
Grigor Dimitrov I understand would have qualified with Bulgaria on the first deadline but because Andy Murray used his protected ranking to bring Great Britain into the top 18 it pushes Bulgaria down the pecking order and are likely to qualify when the follow 5 countries are announced in November. There is only 5 to announce and not 6 as hosts Australia receive a wildcard.
Lucas Pouille is the final member of the top 30 missing and that is because only the top two qualify right now and Monfils and Paire are ahead of him in the rankings however it hasn’t been confirmed whether Pouille will play when the remaining three players are chosen.
At the beginning of this year Doha had;
amongst others and only two of that eleven aren’t signed up yet and I expect Rublev to join the Russian side of Khachanov and Medvedev too.
There is a prize pot of $1.3 million in Doha and less points than the ATP Cup has to offer depending on wins for players. An undefeated singles player could walk away with 750 points and plenty of prize money including big appearance fees.
There was talk Doha might offer big appearance fees but it looks unlikely that happened. All top 20 players will get around $200,000 for participating in ATP Cup.
Prize money for Doha this year was;
R1 – $12,000
R2 – $20,000
QF – $36,000
SF – $64,000
F – $118,000
W – $219,755
For an ATP 250 event that is very good.
From a tennis point of view its bad for the tournament and the fans there and maybe asks questions of the ATP to support their tour more but there is another side.
There is only potentially one top 30 player taking place in Wawrinka and it will open up opportunities for lower ranked players to skip qualifying and come into a main draw and earn some serious money which could set the season up nicely for them.
ATP have linked with Tennis Australia for the ATP Cup and I do believe they have a responsibility to look after their tournaments and I don’t think they are with this situation unless in 2021 they look at moving Doha so there isn’t a clash. However if you put Doha a week before Melbourne how many players will want a big travel before the first major of the year?
There is a possible loop-hole with withdrawals. I would expect some withdrawals from the ATP Cup however once a country has qualified they can’t be kicked out.
All the top players signing up for the event is great but could they pull out and then for example go and play in Doha leaving a spot on the team open for someone else lower ranked to pick up some valuable points and prize money which the ATPCup offers?
There is nothing in the rules stopping this from happening as players sometimes withdraw from tournaments with ‘change of schedule’ and it is possible.
Doha is 7 days and ATP Cup is 10 days so that could be used as a leeway for players as most like to be on site in Melbourne a week before and there could be a lot of travelling included with the group stage taking 6 days to complete before the knockouts begin!
The event finishes on the 16th and the Australian Open begins on the 20th, not sure many top players will be wanting that short break?
There will be players ranked outside the top 300 playing who are set to benefit from prize money and points which can be a catalyst for them.
Image credit – ATP Tour