Also see: Qatar football
The 6th January 2007 saw the finals of the Qatar Open, with young Scotsman Andy Murray battling Ivan Ljubicic for a US$122,000 first prize, a golden falcon and a golden sword. Ivan took the match in two sets, winning both sets 6-4, although the nineteen year old Scot did get a golden dagger for coming second. (The next year the Scot went on to take the trophy in front of a crowd packed with his spectators.)
The tournament, a yearly event in Qatar, started in 1993 and entrance, even for the finals, is usually free.
With total prize money of mre than a million dollars, there have been some big names playing in the Qatar Open. Past players have included Boris Becker, Stefan Edberq, Pete Sampras, Goran Ivanisevic, Thomas Muster, Jim Courier, Petr Korda and Marcelo Rios. World number one, Roger Federer, considered by many to be the best tennis player ever, won in 2005 and 2006, although he was absent in both 2007 and 2008.
So with all these players, Qataris must be keen on tennis? Well, not really - only a handful turned up to watch the finals, compared to several hundred Westerners. The Government, however, is enthusiastic about all things sporting, and has done its best to encourage the sport.
The Qatar tennis federation was formed in 1983, and since then instructors and training centres have been introduced into school, while children with the best potential have been selected at primary school age for the elite Aspire Academy. Tennis was taken up by the major sports clubs and league and cup competitions introduced. In 2001 Qatar also became the first country in the Middle East to hold a women’s tennis tournament: Qatar holds both the Qatar Open for Women and the ladies ITF tournament. Nevertheless, football continues to be the sport most young Qataris are passionate about, with tennis appearing to be more popular with expatriates. Some play even in the hot summer months, although the fearsome heat will deter most.
The tournaments take place in the Khalifa Tennis and Squash complex. (See map at the bottom of this post). This is not far from the Corniche, between Khalifa Street and Al Marhkiya Street, and near the General Post Office.
Sony Ericsson Movie
The 2008 Sony Ericsoson cup saw a match being played on the former Palm Tree Island.
Qatar Open Video
Watch the final play in the Murray v. Ljubicic match on YouTube.
Qatar Visitor Bookstore
Click on the map below for full size image.
Qatar Doha Middle East tennis Murray
Saturday, January 06, 2007
Also see: Qatar football