Saturday, January 4, 2014

QATAR OPEN: Wednesday Diary - Santoro coaching Dolgopolov?

Real Madrid legend Raul Gonzalez was courtside yesterday at the Qatar Open joined by his wife and daughter and the Spanish international got to watch his compatriot Rafael Nadal grind out a three-set win over Tobias Kamke.

Also in the house were most of the PSG squad, who are in town for a friendly with Real Madrid, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani.

Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva were scheduled to play an exhibition with Nadal on court but as the first two matches each went to three sets, the crowds were denied a chance to witness the showdown, which got canceled because the football players had to leave.

Photo via Fernando Verdasco's Instagram account
Tennis did not just cross paths with football last night. Fernando Verdasco spent New Year’s Eve with Ibrahimovic in the Qatari capital which could perhaps explain the Spaniard’s defeat to Victor Hanescu on New Year’s Day.

Elsewhere, the coaching bug seems to have caught on here in Doha and my interest was piqued when I spotted former world No17 Fabrice Santoro sitting in Alexandr Dolgopolov’s box during the Ukrainian’s match with David Ferrer. It turns out Santoro, who is in town covering the tournament for beIN Sports, is helping Dolgopolov for around five weeks in the upcoming period but no plan has been set in stone just yet.

The pair could be a match made in heaven with both of them having shots that do not exist in any tennis book. Rafael Nadal had described Dolgopolov as a “crazy” player before. With Santoro in his corner, things could only get crazier.

Another veteran spotted around the premises was former world No14 Younes Aynaoui, who was seen in one of the TV studios looking sharp in a suit – a rare sight for the Moroccan – and he also shared a practice court with the son of his good friend and compatriot, Karim Alami, who is the tournament director here in Doha.

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