Andy Murray presented best chance yet to break 2024 duck by Qatar Open draw

Will Andy Murray call time on his tennis career?
Will Andy Murray call time on his tennis career?

The neighbourhood of the Qatar Open draw that Andy Murray finds himself in looks to be fraught with challenges for the former world No 1 but has at least been fairly kind to the Scot when it comes to his first round opponent.

Murray was drawn to face a qualifier and on Sunday he learned that would be French world No 73 Alexandre Muller.

Muller lost to Murray in the last eight in last season’s Qatar Open in what has been the only meeting between the players.

Should Murray repeat that victory he will go on to face either fifth seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina or promising Czech prospect Jakub Mensik in the round of 16.

Top seed Andrey Rublev highlights Murray’s quarter and will also be under intense scrutiny after his meltdown during a quarter-final loss to Alex De Minaur in Rotterdam.

Rublev opened up a cut on his own leg after striking himself with a racket in frustration.

The 2023 champion Daniil Medvedev has opted to skip the title defence but the top two seeds are his countrymen Rublev and Karen Khachanov.

Both Rublev and Khachanov will enjoy byes into the round of 16 as will French No 3 seed Ugo Humbert and No 4 Alexander Bublik.

Rublev’s first opponent will be either French wildcard Richard Gasquet or Kazakhstan’s No 2 Alexander Shevchenko.

Khachanov will start his campaign against either Hungarian heavy-hitter Fabian Marozsan or qualifier Vit Kopriva.

If seeding holds in Khachanov’s quarter, the Russian will face German sixth seed Jan-Lennard Struff in the last eight.

Struff faces Christopher O’Connell in the Round of 32 and the winner of that showdown will go on to face either Italian qualifier Giulio Zeppieri or Finn Emil Ruusuvuori.

No 3 seed Humbert will face either Pavel Kotov or Lorenzo Sonego in his first match with the Frenchman seeded to clash with another Italian No 7 seed Lorenzo Musetti in the quarters, should that seeding hold.

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Musetti has a tough opening assignment against the ever-improving Chinese star Zhizen Zhang who recently broke into the top 50 for the first time.

It will be the first time that Musetti and Zhang have shared the court.

Zhang or Musetti will move on to tackle either Gael Monfils or Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp.

No 4 seed Bublik appears set on a course to face Rotterdam semi-finalist Tallon Griekspoor in the last eight in Doha.

Griekspoor is seeded No 8 and will start his tournament in the Round of 32 where he takes on French qualifier Hugo Grenier.

The Dutchman will have to deal with one of Abdullah Shelbayh or Alexei Popyrin in the last 16 if he can progress with his fifth match win of the season.

Bublik will commence action from the Round of 16 meeting either Roberto Bautista Agut or Marton Fucsovics.

The Kazakhstan No 1 is on a four match winning streak having claimed the Open Sud de France in Montpellier.

Bublik is at a career-high No 23 in the ATP Rankings and will be a genuine title threat in Qatar.