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Past Champions Celebrated at Qatar ExxonMobil Open 2012
07 Jan 2012

Saturday, January 7, 2012Doha, Qatar – All this week the Qatar ExxonMobil Open has celebrated the 20th anniversary of men’s professional tennis in Doha. Past champions have been spotted around town as they have come to the desert to be part of the festivities. Following today’s men’s final match and closing ceremony, the former champions have the spotlight on them once more for a special ceremony. As the Qatar ExxonMobil Open celebrates a milestone 20th anniversary, we look back at some of our past champions…

 

STEFAN EDBERG – 1994 & 1995

 

Sweden’s Stefan Edberg was a back-to-back winner in Doha, hoisting the trophy in 1994 and 1995. The second year of the event was also Edberg’s second time in Doha, he had lost to eventual 1993 winner Boris Becker in the semifinals of the inaugural event. A year later though, Edberg won the title for the first time by defeating Paul Haarhuis of The Netherlands in the final, and only lost one set during the entire tournament. A year later, Edberg returned to Doha to defend his title. He defeated Morocco’s Karim Alami in the quarterfinals and Henri Leconte of France in the semifinals before facing his fellow countryman, Magnus Larsson in the final. It remains the only final in tournament history where both players were from the same country. The first set went to a tie-break which Edberg won and then he steamrolled through to win the second set and the title, 7-6, 6-1. His 1995 title in Doha would prove to be his final career singles title. Having finished 1990 and 1991 as year-end world No. 1, Edberg’s career consisted of a total of 42 singles titles, including six Grand Slam titles (two Australian Open titles, two Wimbledon titles and two US Open titles) and career prize money of US $20,630,941. He was a five-time recipient of the ATP Sportsmanship Award (1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1995) and in recognition of this achievement the ATP renamed the award the “Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award” in 1996. In 2004, Edberg was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, USA.

 

FABRICE SANTORO - 2000

 

France’s Fabrice Santoro was known as “The Magician” for his varied and innovative style of play. It was third time lucky for Santoro in Doha. Having reached the final in 1998, losing to Petr Korda of the Czech Republic, he returned only to lose in the first round in 1999, to Morocco’s Younes El Aynaoui. But 2000’s appearance in Doha proved to be fortuitous for him. He had to defeat three Germans en route to the title – Lars Burgsmuller in the first round, Nicolas Kiefer in the semifinal, and Rainer Schuettler (Doha champion from the year before) in the finals. Schuettler and Santoro split the first two sets before the German had to retire in the third set. Santoro continued to come to Doha for the following six years – making an astounding nine appearances total in the desert.  With his participation in the 2008 Australian Open, he broke Andre Agassi’s record of Grand Slam appearances over his career with a total of 62. He retired at  the end of the 2009 in his hometown tournament of BNP Paribas Masters Paris but came out of retirement for the 2010 Australian Open in order to obtain the record for having played in Grand Slams in four different decades. He retired having won a total of six singles titles and 24 doubles titles, including two Australian Open titles with fellow Frenchman Michael Llodra in 2003 and 2004. He also won the mixed doubles championship at the 2005 French Open with Daniela Hantuchova.

 

 

YOUNES EL AYNAOUI - 2002

 

Younes El Aynaoui has a record 13 appearances in Doha. His appearance in 2002 was the start of his most successful year on the ATP World Tour. He won the title in Doha by defeating Spain’s Felix Mantilla in the final, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 and went on to win titles in Casablanca and Munich as well. As the place of his first singles title, the Moroccan legend chose to return to Doha in 2010 for his final professional tournament. He lost in the second round to Steve Darcis of Belgium and then retired from the game. In one of tennis’ most memorable matches, El Aynaoui took American Andy Roddick to a five-set, five-hour match in the semifinals of the 2003 Australian Open. Roddick ended up winning the match 4-6, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4, 21-19 but both players saved match points before the fifth set ended. He won five career singles titles. He is one of the most prominent personalities in Morocco, and not just in sport. In a 2003 poll by leading Moroccan economic daily, “L’Economiste,” he came in first as a role model for society. El Aynaoui received a gold medal – the nation’s highest honor – from King Mohammed VI of Morocco. He continues to use his influence on Moroccan society to promote solidarity and activities of outreach to the youth and less privileged.

 

STEFAN KOUBEK - 2003

 

Austrian Stefan Koubek started playing tennis at age seven and grew up idolizing fellow Austrian Thomas Muster. He turned professional in 1994. He played in the desert six times and 2003 proved to be a fortuitous start to the year. He made it through the first three rounds in Doha by defeating Nicolas Escude, Vladimir Voltchkov and Andreas Vinciguerra. Then he faced Morocco’s Younes El Aynaoui in the semifinals. Both players played inspired tennis and took each set to a tie-break, with Koubek winning 7-6, 7-6. He won the title in Doha by defeating American Jan-Michael Gambill in the final, 6-4, 6-4 and did not lose a set during the entire tournament. Koubek was the last left-handed player to win the Doha title. He won three singles titles on the ATP World Tour and his win in Doha was his last career singles title. Koubek retired from tennis in 2011 with career prize money of $3,074,920.

 

NICOLAS ESCUDE – 2004

 

France’s Nicolas Escude played the Qatar ExxonMobil Open three times. On his debut appearance in 2001, he reached the semifinals where he lost to Czech Bohdan Ulihrach. Three years later he won the title without losing a single set during the entire event. He defeated Younes El Aynaoui, Ivo Heuberger, Hyung-Taik Lee and Augustin Calleri before facing Croatia’s Ivan Ljubicic in the final. Ljubicic proved to be a formidable opponent and the second set went into a tie-break, but Escude defeated the Croat 6-3, 7-6. His 2004 victory in Doha would be his last career singles title. He retired from the game in 2006 due to a persistent shoulder injury that had kept him from playing for the previous 22 months. He won four singles titles and two doubles titles over the course of his career. He is most remembered for the vital part he played in France’s defeated of Australia in Melbourne in the 2001 Davis Cup final. He defeated Lleyton Hewitt in the opening rubber with a five-set victory. Two days later he won the decisive fifth rubber over Wayne Arthurs to help France lift the Davis Cup trophy. Escude is a natural left-hander who was trained to play right-handed, though he does everything else with his left hand. He is currently the captain of the France Fed Cup team.

 

NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO – 2010

 

30-year-old Russian Nikolay Davydenko turned professional in 1999 and has been ranked as high as No. 3 in the world and earned $14,832,949 in career prize money. He has had tremendous success in the desert – having been a Qatar ExxonMobil Open semifinalist three times (in 2005, 2007, 2008), finalist in 2011 (lost to Roger Federer) and champion in 2010. The year he won the tournament, he got through the event without dropping a singles set – taking out big-hitting Ivo Karlovic in the quarterfinals and then-world No. 1 Roger Federer in the semifinals in order to face Spain’s Rafael Nadal in the final. Nadal got out to an impressive start and took the first set 6-0 from Davydenko, but the Russian was in it for the long-haul and battled back in a grueling match that went the distance. Davydenko eventually won the match 0-6, 7-6(8), 6-4. Davydenko lost to Federer in this year’s opening round of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open 2012, in a repeat of last year’s final and looks to prepare for his 11th Australian Open.

 

ROGER FEDERER – 2005, 2006, 2011

 

Swiss maestro Roger Federer has a record three titles in Doha. Currently ranked No. 3 in the world, he is regarded by many as the Greatest of All Time. He won back-to-back Qatar ExxonMobil titles in 2005 (defeated Ivan Ljubicic) and 2006 (defeated Gael Monfils) and then won last year (defeated 2010 champion Nikolay Davydenko). He has won a men’s record 16 Grand Slam singles titles (four Australian Open titles, one French Open title, six Wimbledon titles, five US Open titles) and one of seven male players to capture a career Grand Slam and one of three (along with Andre Agassi and Rafael Nadal) to do so on three different surfaces (clay, grass, and hard courts). He is the only male player in tennis history to have reached the title match of each Grand Slam tournament at least five times and also reach the final at each of the nine ATP Masters 1000 Tournaments. As important as tennis is to Federer, giving back to the community is just as important. For the past half decade he has working with children in Africa and Switzerland through the Roger Federer Foundation, which partners with local charity organizations to provide children with access to education, sport and play, and improves the quality where there are no or only insufficient funds available. To date, nearly 43,000 children are benefiting from the work his Foundation is doing. In April 2006, he was named UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and also received the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year Award. In 2011 he received the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for the seventh time and was selected as the ATPWorldTour.com Fans’ Favorite for a record ninth consecutive year.

 

About Qatar Tennis Federation

The overall mission of the Qatar Tennis Federation (QTF) is to provide young Qatari tennis players with the best resources and opportunities available to reach their maximum potential and compete in renowned tennis tournaments locally, regionally and internationally. In addition the Qatar Tennis Federation is fully committed to elevate the level of tennis in the country and to turn tennis into the preferred sport among the community of Qatar.