A promising clash takes place in the opening round of the Qatar Open tomorrow afternoon as Latvian no. 1 Ernests Gulbis meets British qualifier and budding talent Daniel Evans. The scheduled encounter is their first ever meeting on the professional tour, as Evans still competes mostly in ATP Challenger events on the tour.
World no. 24 Ernests Gulbis enjoyed a fantastic 2013 season, where he won titles in Delray Beach, Florida and St. Petersburg, Russia to boost his career total to four titles. The Latvian jumped 114 spots back into the top 25 in the Emirates ATP rankings for the first time since 2010 and will likely be looking to crack the top 20 for the first time in his career this season. Gulbis has reached the quarter-finals of the Doha Open in 2010 and 2011, losing to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal respectively.
British youngster Daniel Evans witnessed his breakthrough year in 2013, as he rose from no. 248 to no. 169 in two weeks, and followed up with his first Grand Slam match wins when he upset Japanese no. 1 Kei Nishikori and Bernard Tomic before losing to Tommy Robredo in the third round in Flushing Meadows. Now ranked at no. 150, Evans is off to a strong start in 2014, as he officially qualified for the Qatar Open and will be making his debut in the main draw of the tournament. His first match-up against the tricky Gulbis will be a challenging one though as he is yet to ever face the Latvian on the tour.
While Evans has certainly had an outstanding 2013 season and will continue to improve throughout the upcoming season, he is simply not prepared to withstand Gulbis’s attacks and flashy style and will likely succumb to him in three sets.
Prediction: Ernests Gulbis in Three Sets