Doha: Qatar Open top seed, Austria's Dominic Thiem, won a hard-fought opening round match in Doha on Monday, beating Russia's Evgeny Donskoy in straight sets 7-6 (7-3), 6-3.
The world No.5 was pushed hard by his opponent, especially in the first set where Donskoy threatened an early upset.
But he won in a tie break, before breaking the Russian's serve twice in the second set, in the sixth and ninth games to claim victory.
Thiem, one of the players predicted to break through this year amid injury concerns for the game's traditional big stars, hit more than 30 winners to secure his passage into the second round.
The 24-year-old was installed as the tournament's top seed after the withdrawal of Novak Djokovic because of a persistent elbow injury.
Second and third seeds Pablo Carreno Busta and Tomas Berdych play on Tuesday.