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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Qatar Open

"It's funny," said my friend. "Tennis matches used to be free here, yet the tennis courts were half empty. Now they charge, and the courts are packed."

Maybe tennis is coming of age in Qatar - just like, it seems Murray, is. The first time I watched him in the finals, he was defeated. (We caught the last play of the match in a movie you can watch at the bottom of this post: Qatar Tennis.)

Last year he won, but it seemed a scrappy victory. This time his victory over Roderick, the world number 8, seemed smooth and almost easy - raising barely a grunt out of him until the final set. (See the movie below!)

If it was packed, though, it was packed with expats rather than Qataris. Qataris were present, and it was great to see young children enjoying the match, but despite the efforts of the Qatar Tennis association, who are encouraging young children to start playing, tennis has a long way to go before it even starts to match the hold football has on Qatari hearts! (The international match being held next door certainly didn't help Qatari attendance!)

So why is tennis so much more popular now? Perhaps it is because there are just so many expats here now - the official population has doubled since we started Qatar Visitor. Or perhaps it is just because until you put a price on something, people accord it no value.

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