After taking part in an exhibition event to warm up ahead of week one on the tour, Czech no. 1 Tomas Berdych will meet Denis Istomin in the opening round of the Qatar Exxon Mobil Open tournament in Doha. Berdych remains undefeated with a 3-0 record in the head-to-head series.
Last week, Berdych took part in the inaugural exhibition tournament, the World Tennis Thailand Championships in Hua Hin, alongside five other players on the tour. In the final, Berdych defeated Milos Raonic 7-6(4), 6-3 to lift the title. He will now look ahead to Doha, where he is faced with a draw that includes world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and world No. 3 Rafael Nadal.
World No. 48 Denis Istomin compiled a 28-26 record on the tour in 2014, with notable performances in Sydney, Montpellier, Dusseldorf and Eastboure. He even reached the third round of the Wimbledon Championships, where he lost to Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka in straight sets.
This marks the fourth time that these two competitors will meet on the professional tour, with Berdych leading the head-to-head series 3-0. The Czech star won two of those matches in 2010 – one on hard and one at Wimbledon – while the more recent encounter took place on clay at the Rome Masters event in 2013. Unless Berych is weary from his travels over the weekend, he should manage to secure a spot in the second round of the tournament.
Prediction: Tomas Berdych in Three Sets