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Rafael Nadal vs Pablo Carreno Busta ATP Doha tennis live: Nadal faces compatriot at Qatar Open

Hannah Wilks in News 4 Jan 2016
  • Rafael Nadal vs Pablo Carreno Busta is live from Doha on Tuesday at 6.30pm local/3.30pm GMT
  • 2013 Qatar ExxonMobil Open champion Nadal is bidding to regain his title after a troubled 2015
  • Nadal suffered a shock first-round loss to Michael Berrer 12 months ago in Doha
Rafael Nadal (MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal was ousted in the first round of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open 12 months ago, but he returns in form as he faces Pablo Carreno Busta on Tuesday. 

After victory last week at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition, Rafael Nadal begins his season in earnest as he takes on Pablo Carreno Busta at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open on Tuesday.

Nadal beat David Ferrer in a match of such high quality he described it as ‘like six months into the season’ before ousting Milos Raonic in the final to claim the title at the six-man exhibition, but fierce as the competition was in Abu Dhabi, that was an exhibition and the fact remains that Nadal still hasn’t won a hard-court title for almost exactly two years – his last title coming at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in 2013. 

‘Whither Nadal?’ must be one of the biggest questions as we hover uneasily at the top of the rollercoaster that is the tennis season. An injury-marred 2014 led to a sharp decline in 2015, with Nadal failing to win a Grand Slam or Masters Series title for the first time in a decade, but Nadal himself constantly insisted that all he needed was to find his confidence and at the end of the year there were distinct indications that he had finally pinned down that elusive commodity. After losing in shocking fashion to Fabio Fognini at the US Open, Nadal reached the finals of Beijing and Basel and the semifinals of the Shanghai Masters and World Tour Finals, beating Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka at the latter. He couldn’t overcome Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer, but he looked a lot more like a potent combination of his old self and a new and improved Rafa and it promises much for 2016.

How to watch and bet on Doha tennis live online

Nadal has a 19-6 record at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, where he suffered a shock loss to world no. 127 Michael Berrer in the first round in 2015, but there should be no real fears of a similar upset in 2016. Nadal’s first-round opponent, Pablo Carreno Busta, is a compatriot of his who has been seized upon as a bright spot for Spanish tennis, whose golden generation on the men’s side are ageing without any sign of younger replacements coming along. 

But at 24, there’s been no real sign of Carreno Busta delivering on that supposed potential. The right-hander cracked the top 50 briefly at the beginning of 2015, but it took him until April to win back-to-back matches (doing so at the Estoril Open, where he reached the semifinals before losing to Nick Kyrgios). For the rest of the season Carreno Busta played a mixture of ATP World Tour and Challenger events, but although he excelled at the latter – winning titles in Perugia and Poznan and reaching the final in Seville – he continued to make no impact on the former, winning consecutive matches just once more at that level in 2015 when he reached the Gstaad quarterfinals.

Carreno Busta has never beaten a top-10 player and is 1-13 against players ranked inside the top 20, with a win over Feliciano Lopez in Valencia in 2014. He played Nadal for the first and only time so far in Rio de Janeiro in 2015, losing 5-7, 3-6 – and if the way he finished 2015 and the way he played in Mubadala last week are any indication, Nadal is playing so much better than he was last February that the magnitude of the difference might have to be measured in light years. It doesn’t bode well for Carreno Busta’s chances of emulating Michael Berrer’s stunning upset win last year. 

Nadal and Carreno Busta are scheduled on court in Doha at 6.30pm local/3.30pm GMT on Tuesday

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Rafael Nadal vs Pablo Carreno Busta ATP Doha tennis live: Nadal faces compatriot at Qatar Open

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