The first main draw ATP match of the season will kick off tonight in Brisbane, Australia. The Brisbane International is a joint event with big names from both tours in Australia this week in the lead up to Melbourne but the Mens draw will be headed by Roger Federer. As top seed, he will be favoured to win the title with Andy Murray choosing not to defend his trophy from last year.
Federer usually kicks off his season in Asia but made the switch to Brisbane this year. He receives a first round bye before playing the winner of James Duckworth and Jarkko Nieminen. Federer has a 13-0 record against the Finn dating back to 2002 although they have only played on outdoor hard twice. Duckworth had shown promise in 2012 but didn’t advance much in 2013 finding himself stuck on the Challenger circuit for long parts of the year.
Dmitry Tursunov is the seed slated to play Federer in the top quarter of the draw but Sam Querrey will be far from a pushover. The Russian does lead the head to head 2-1 but lost in Australia the last time these two met with the American winning in four sets. Julien Benneteau has a win over Federer in 2013 and will fancy his chances again if their Rotterdam matchup is anything to go by. However, he will need to reverse the straight sets loss he suffered in Beijing to Marinko Matosevic if he is to have a chance of meeting the Swiss.
Wildcard Samuel Groth will be happy to see that he has drawn a qualifier in his opening round. Ryan Harrison and Thanasi Kokkinakis are amongst those still in with a shot of qualifying. If Groth advances to the next round, tiebreaks will be expected as he takes on fellow big server Kevin Anderson. The South African struggled late last year and could be ripe for an upset if he doesn’t improve.
The rest of the second quarter has a distinctly French feel to it with three of the four spots in French possession. Jeremy Chardy looks to make it four wins in a row against Adrian Mannarino while Nicolas Mahut faces Igor Sijsling. Mahut, who will also be playing doubles with Roger Federer here, wasn’t a constant on the main tour last year but still managed to win two ATP titles on the grass.
Feliciano Lopez is another who made the switch to here from Doha and begins against Mikhail Kukushkin. The Kazakh ended his season on a good note with a Moscow final although he led by a break in the decider against Richard Gasquet. Meanwhile, qualifiers take up much of the rest of the quarter. 2 times winner Lleyton Hewitt faces a qualifier while two other qualifiers will play for the chance to take on third seed Gilles Simon.
The most competitive quarter looks to be the fourth with Kei Nishikori as second seed getting a first round bye. He plays the winner of an all-Aussie affair between Nick Kyrgios and Matthew Ebden. Kyrgios is an undoubted future talent but it may yet be too early for the youngster although Ebden is one of the more generous draws he could have had.
In only his third match back since his doping ban, Marin Cilic plays Denis Istomin as he looks to make it 4-0 over the Uzbek. Grigor Dimitrov showed he was ready to make a charge to begin this year with good form over the European indoor swing at the end of the year. He plays Robin Haase in the opener on his quest for a second ATP title.
SF: Roger Federer def. Jeremy Chardy
SF: Grigor Dimitrov def. Gilles Simon
F: Grigor Dimitrov def. Roger Federer