The main draw action in Doha kicked off on Monday with seven matches, including two seeds that had a mixed fortune at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open. In an all-French encounter, Jerremy Chardy defeated a qualifier Gregoire Barrere 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in an hour and 43 minutes.
Both players had nine aces and seven break chances up for grabs, with one successful return game in each set, two of those for Chardy that carried him through. Jeremy delivered five commanding service games in the first set and broke Barrere at 2-1, controlling the pace until the eighth game of the second set when Gregoire converted the fifth break chance to move in front, closing this part of the match on the seventh set point in the next game to force a decider.
There, Chardy saved break chances in the first game and grabbed a break a few minutes later, keeping the lead until the end and moving over the top with a hold in game nine. Alexander Bublik ousted the 7th seed Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 6-4 in 69 minutes, firing ten aces and fending off three out of four break points.
Mannarino suffered three breaks and it was enough for the youngster to seal the deal and move through after taking four of the last five games in set number two. A qualifier Corentin Moutet defeated Tennys Sandgren 7-6, 6-4, fending off all seven break chances in two loose service games and gathering momentum after taking the opening set tie break.
He broke the American at 3-3 in set number two after repelling four break points in the previous game, moving over the top with a hold at love at 5-4 to reach the second round. In an all-Spanish clash, the veteran Fernando Verdasco defeated Pablo Andujar 6-4, 6-3 in just under an hour and a half.
The more experienced Spaniard lost only 14 points in ten service games, controlling the pace and never facing a break point to mount the pressure on Andujar who couldn't endure it. Kicking off his 17th season in the top-50, Verdasco broke Andujar in the tenth game of the first set and once again at 4-3 in the second, sealing the deal with a hold at love in game nine to find himself in the last 16.
The young Serb Miomir Kecmanovic wrapped up a 6-4, 6-2 triumph over Jordan Thompson in an hour and 24 minutes, experiencing no troubles on serve despite serving at only 54%. Thompson couldn't follow those numbers, offering ten break chances to his opponents (five in the first game alone) and getting broken three times to propel Miomir into the second round.
The 6th seed Filip Krajinovic ousted Kyle Edmund 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 after two hours and 13 minutes, taking ten points more than the Briton and playing better and better on the return as the match progressed to overcome the deficit and make a winning start.
Edmund saved two break points at 4-4 in the first set after previously wasting the advantage, scoring a break in game ten to take the opener 6-4 before Krajinovic found the rhythm on the return, scoring three breaks in each of the next two sets to cross the finish line first and open the season with a win.