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In a tournament filled with established ATP Tour veterans, the youthful presence of 14-year-old Rashed Nawaf offered a unique change to the draws at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha.The Qatari teenager was rewarded for his junior success by making his tour-level debut on home soil. Nawaf competed in the singles qualifying draw and faced a Top 100 player in Brazilian Thiago Monteiro, then paired with Tunisian Malek Jaziri in doubles and battled a pair of elite doubles players in Henri Kontinen/Franko Skugor. Although Nawaf lost both matches, he’s confident that the experiences will only help him in the future.“It’s a turning point in my career,” Nawaf said. “It’s a big step playing these huge names and being surrounded by big stars. I was impressed with their level of tennis and so many aspects of their game. The pressure is hard in singles, but it’s a bit less in doubles. You have the support of a partner and it helps, especially with someone like Malek.”Nawaf’s debut in Doha was particularly fitting because he’s been a regular visitor to the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex as a spectator. He immediately took to tennis when he first attended this event as a young boy and his passion for the sport hasn't wavered since.“I was always at this tournament growing up and it played a big role in my love for tennis,” Nawaf said. “I went with my father to watch this tournament and really liked it, so I told him that I wanted to play.”At age 12, the Qatar Tennis Federation sent him to train at the world-renowned Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in France, where he still resides. Nawaf’s game quickly blossomed there and he’s been serving up notice in top junior events, finishing runner-up last year at the prestigious Les Petits As tournament and in the 14-and-under draw at the Orange Bowl.But while Nawaf is pleased with his progress, his ambitions are much loftier. He hopes that someday lifting the title in Doha will be just one accomplishment in a fruitful ATP Tour career.“I believe it’s the dream of every tennis player to be one of the best singles players in the world and win a Grand Slam,” Nawaf said. “It’s the same for me.”
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