In the season behind us, the first ATP singles tournament came in Doha, with a solid field of players fighting for the crown. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Milos Raonic failed to reach the quarters, leaving Andrey Rublev and Stan Wawrinka as the leading figures in the trophy battle.
After beating Raonic, a qualifier Corentin Moutet toppled the top seed Stan Wawrinka for the first ATP final, facing Andrey Rublev and hoping for another surprise. The 22-year-old Russian couldn't make the appearance at the ATP Cup, not feeling happy about that and wanting to show his best tennis in Doha.
Andrey produced rock-solid tennis in the opening three encounters against Mikhail Kukushkin, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Miomir Kecmanovic, shifting that momentum into the title match to earn a 6-2, 7-6 triumph over Moutet.
It was the youngest title match at this tournament and we saw a solid battle in set number two, with Corentin giving his best to stay in touch and force a decider. Both players landed above 75% of the first serve in, and Andrey drew more from that, facing only two break points and giving serve away once in the second set when he was already a set and a break in front.
On the other hand, the Russian stole the Frenchman's serve three times, enough to seal the deal in straight sets and find himself in the top-20 for the first time.
Andrey Rublev claimed the first singles title of the season in Doha.
Rublev drew first blood in the second game following a volley error from Moutet, who fended off two break chances in game four to avoid an even bigger disaster.
Still, Andrey was too strong in those moments, securing another break in the eighth game to wrap up the opener 6-2 in 31 minutes. With the momentum on his side, the Russian grabbed 13 of the second set's opening 16 points, earning a break in game two after a volley mistake from Moutet and cementing it with a service winner a few minutes later to open a 3-0 gap.
Out of a sudden, Corentin found the range behind the initial shot, dropping only eight points in the next five service games and breaking Rublev in game seven thanks to a perfect defense and a smash winner. The set went into a tie break after five good holds on both sides, and it was Rublev who forged a 4-0 advantage, controlling the pace and converting the third match point at 6-3 to celebrate the third ATP crown.
The Russian couldn't make a better start of the new season, traveling to Adelaide and extending the winning streak ahead of the Australian Open.