Doha, February 20 (QNA) – HE President of the Qatar Tennis Squash and Badminton Federation Nasser bin Ghanem Al Khulaifi affirmed that the Qatar ExxonMobil Open is one of the most important ATP 250 tournaments, with the participation of various top seeds and its winning of the best tournament award five times in the past nine years.

In press remarks on Tuesday, Al Khulaifi said that over the past ten years, Qatar has succeeded in consolidating its position as a leading global center for sports and has also confirmed its ability to host major international sporting events. He added that Qatar includes the latest sports facilities, such as the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Centre, and provides local and international athletes with the necessary infrastructure to hone their skills and compete globally.

The President of the Qatar Tennis Squash and Badminton Federation noted the successful participation of the 20-year-old Shelbayh, saying that he produced a sensational opening set of his first-round tie before being pegged back by the older, more experienced Popyrin to eventually fall 6-3, 3-6, 4-6.

Commenting on his pride in witnessing the Jordanian player’s impressive performance, standing toe-to-toe with a Top-50 player in Doha, Al Khelaifi said: “That is what we are always looking for whenever we provide wildcards for the Qatar ExxonMobil Open we want to use our position to help young players from across the region gain valuable experience. He showed great early signs of development, and I have no doubt he will benefit from this match, much as he did when he played here last year. It was great also to see him receive such strong support from the fans in the stands.”
Shelbayh reached a career-high World No. 181 last month and was cheered on by appreciative fans, some with Jordanian flags, inside the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Centre. His early exchanges immediately confirmed he was at home among a field that includes three of the world’s top 20 and is led by world No.5 Andrey Rublev.

A former Davis Cup player, Al Khulaifi has spoken often of his desire to grow the game in the Gulf and help the next generation of Arab players develop and reach a high level. By providing wildcards to young regional talents, he believes the game will only continue to grow both in Qatar and the wider region.

The decision to award Shelbayh a wildcard for a second consecutive year is further evidence of the strong relations between Qatar and Gulf neighbors Jordan, exemplified at the recent AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 where the two countries both progressed to the final of the continental showpiece where they faced off in Doha amid a carnivalesque atmosphere. (QNA)


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