The grand tournament carries a record prize money of $575,000.
The Qatar Major 2022 Padel tournament kicked off on Monday with the participation of the world’s top padel players battling to secure the grand title.
Held at Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex, the tournament is the first leg of the newly-announced Category 1 of the Premier Padel, which is set to have at least 10 tournaments scheduled for 2022 and 2023.
The world championship will go up to over 25 tournaments a year by 2024, marking the significant growth of the sport in recent years. The tour will include four top category events that will take place in what the FIP has described as “spectacular venues” across the globe.
Registration for the event broke new records with 123 pairs from 19 different countries. Previously, the record for international padel tournaments reached a maximum of 50 pairs.
In total, around 56 teams will battle in Doha until April 4 to win a staggering record prize money of $575,000. Not only that, but the winning pair will earn 2000 ranking points, with the finalist bagging 1200 points and the semi-finalists 750 points.
Out of the 56, 44 will get an automatic qualification in line with their rankings, eight will qualify through the qualifiers and four wildcard entrants will join the final list.
The first day marked a disappointing start for Qatar players Abdulaziz and Mohamed Saadoun al-Kuwari after losing to Spain’s Ruben Rivera and Italy’s Thomas Perino Denis 6-2, 6-2 in 58 minutes.
The host country also saw another of its pair, Jabr al-Mutawa, and Mohamed al-Khanji, losing to Spaniard’s Caspar Jose Carlos and Rocafort Caetano 6-1, 6-2 in a match that lasted 41 minutes.
Meanwhile, Italy’s star pairs Daniel Cattaneo and Ricardo Sinekrobi were defeated by Argentine duo Ramiro Moyano and Juan Belwati 7-6, 6-1. Mark Quills and Benno Toni, however, bagged the wins in the all-Spanish match with a 0-6, 7-5, 6-1 win over Javier Rico and Jeronimo Gonzalez.
Padel is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world and has over 25 million players around the world, a number that has doubled over the past five years. Likewise, Doha has also witnessed the enormous popularity of the sport in recent years, pushing the country to open several courts to cater to the demand.
The FIP is also seeking to include the sport at the Olympic Games as soon as Los Angeles in 2028.
In November 2021, the Gulf nation has also successfully hosted the World Padel Championship, earning praise from all padel federations for the efficient planning and top-tier facilities. It was the first time such a tournament was held in an Arab country.
“Our interest in Padel started to increase in recent years, and we were so happy to hear about this tournament right here in Qatar. The organisation is absolutely amazing and to witness world players live is a great opportunity for me and my family,” a fan told Doha News during the opening.