Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: ATP 250 Series: Qatar ExxonMobil Open

ATP 250 Series: Qatar ExxonMobil Open

We take a look at the ATP 250 Series Qatar ExxonMobil Open matches between Dominic Thiem and Aslan Karatsev as well as Andrey Rublev against Richard Gasquet.

Photo Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

2021 ATP Tour
ATP 250 Series
Qatar ExxonMobil Open
Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex (Outdoor Hardcourts)
Selected Round of 16 Matches- 10th March

Dominic Thiem (1) (2/5) vs Aslan Karatsev (2/1)

Dominic Theim will be opening his Qatar ExxonMobil Open campaign against Aslan Karatsev.  This is the first event that either has played since the Aussie Open.  Thiem never had the greatest of times in Melbourne.  He scrapped past Kyrgios before being dunked out by Grigor Dimitrov.  Thiem was carrying a minor injury and was without coach Nicolas Massau (he had been diagnosed with Covid-19 just ahead of the event).  They have since been reunited and it would seem that he has shaken off his injury.  The current US Open Champion is temperamental and benefits from stability in his coaching corner.  Thiem has been on an upward trajectory for some time now, marrying his obvious talents for clay-courts with a growing understanding of how to dominate on hardcourts.  The number one seed will know that this is a potential banana skin, with Aslan Karatsev the major surprise coming out of Melbourne.  

This is a fairly amazing story.  27-year-old Aslan Karatsev has been literally globetrotting for the past seven years, looking for coaching opportunities and trying to survive the life of a professional tennis player.  Plagued by injury and financial constraints, the Russian’s career seemed to be on a path to nowhere.  But 2020 saw him unite with coach Yahor Yatsyk.  Immediately following the lockdown, it started to pay dividends.  He lost a Challenger Final in Prague before winning the Prague Open.  He then won the Challenger event in Ostrava.  So, his magical fortnight in Melbourne never materialised from nowhere.  Coming through qualifying, the Russian came through a difficult draw to reach the semi-finals on his Grand Slam debut.  His powerful serve and no-nonsense baseline play broke opponents down.  Perhaps his time in the tennis wilderness has helped foster his resolute game.  Karastev utterly dominated Zayid in his opening match.  He only dropped seven points on serve the entire match.  He is a dangerous dark horse this week and highlights the depth of Russian tennis at this moment.  

This will be the first time that these two will have met.  I am sensing a famous upset here.  Thiem is a notoriously slow starter in non-Major events.  He also hasn’t hit a ball in earnest for some time now.  He may find it hard to control Karatsev’s bullets from the outset.  I really think there’s value in playing the powerful Karatsev this week.  

Andrey Rublev (1/8) vs Richard Gasquet (5/1)

Andrey Rublev is currently the man for all seasons on tour.  Yes, he hasn’t quite managed to make that Grand Slam breakthrough: a quarterfinal run at Melbourne was quite emphatically ended by fellow countryman Danil Medvedev.  But there is no doubting who is the current king of the ATP tour proper.  Rublev’s victory in Rotterdam last week was his 4th consecutive ATP 500 Title.  His current win streak of 20 in ATP 500 events is the 3rd longest in history.  He is like a demented energizer bunny, looking to accumulate ATP Finals points at every opportunity.  If an ATP 250 event was staged in Mordor you would probably expect to find the Russian there.  But could fatigue become a factor for Rublev?  He has endured a gruelling schedule in comparison to most this year, helping to lead Russia to the ATP Cup to start the campaign.  He is also looking to defend this title this week, highlighting the sheer number of victories he has accumulated in the last 15 months.  

It has been a hard road back from a 2019 hernia surgery for 34-year-old Richard Gasquet.  The former three-time Grand Slam semi-finalist hasn’t really been physically able to produce his best tennis (despite still possessing the most beautiful single-handed backhand in world tennis).  But there are a few positives for the Frenchman this week.  Firstly, he has won this event before in 2013.  Furthermore, he did mange to reach a semi-final towards the end of 2020.  His semi-final run at the Sofia Open showed there is still life in these legs.  He eased past Blaz Rola in the opening round and will be hoping that the younger Rublev is starting to feel the strain of his psychotic schedule.  

This will actually be the first time that these two will have met.  I was quite surprised by that.  Rublev is clearly the ridiculous favourite.  But perhaps there is some value in Gasquet picking up a set and Rublev winning in three at 3/1.  As I have stated, Gasquet is a class act.  He is exactly the sort of player who can nick one set off a heavy favourite.  

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