DOHA, Qatar — Top-seeded Dominic Thiem started the year with a 7-6 (3), 6-3 first-round win over Evgeny Donskoy of Russia at the Qatar Open on Monday.
Thiem saved two set points in the first set.
"It's nice to be top seeded," the fifth-ranked Austrian said. "The season is going to be very long, and I hope that I can have a good start here."
Seventh-seeded Fernando Verdasco of Spain beat Dudi Sela of Israel 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 after winning the last 10 games.
Two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic withdrew on Saturday from the Qatar Open, his warm-up tournament for the Australian Open, after saying he still has pain in his right elbow.