One of two ATP World Tour 250 events this week in the lead-up to the Australian Open, the Apia International in Sydney is one of the oldest events on tour with it’s origins dating back to the 19th century. The event is joint with a WTA Premier with a number of the women’s top 10 competing. The men’s event has seen a whole host of winners but in recent times Lleyton Hewitt has had the most success with 4 titles while Bernard Tomic won his maiden ATP title last year at this event.
Juan Martin Del Potro is the only top 20 player in the draw and should win the event if he is 100% focused but it could come at the expense of a deep run in Melbourne. He begins against the winner of Nicolas Mahut and a qualifier. Possible opponents include Jiri Vesely, Albert Ramos and Sergiy Stakhovsky.
Samuel Groth hopes to continue his good form from Brisbane after making the quarter finals as a wildcard. Groth once again receives a wildcard and could have received far worse draws than Radek Stepanek. Groth could well cause a shock if he puts on a dominant serving performance. Fifth seed Vasek Pospisil was slated to Sam Querrey in round one but a retirement down 3-6 5-5 in Chennai suggests that will be off the cards.
Querrey was a winner in Brisbane over fourth seed Dmitry Tursunov who looks for his first win of the season at this event. The Russian plays Joao Sousa or Lukas Rosol to begin. Sousa ended the season well and there were high hopes for the Portugese but a highly disappointing loss to Victor Hanescu last week has scaled these down a bit. Sousa won in straights over Tursunov on his way to the St Petersburg final last season.
Marin Cilic picked up an impressive win over Grigor Dimitrov in Brisbane last week as he looks to get back to his best. He begins with a qualifier with the winner of Denis Istomin and Pablo Andujar waiting in the second round. Istomin should make it 3-0 against the Spaniard who struggles badly off clay. Cilic is 4-0 over Istomin including a three set victory last week.
The third quarter looks wide open with Andreas Seppi receiving the first round bye. Marinko Matosevic plays Florian Mayer for the chance to play the Italian and you would have to favour Mayer. Although Andy Murray was far from his best, Mayer still showed a great deal of heart to fight back from a set and break down to pick up the win in Doha last week.
Meanwhile, sixth seed Julien Benneteau plays wildcard Matthew Ebden. Ebden made 4 Challenger finals in his last 5 events of 2013, winning three and will be looking to make the take that form into his season here. A quarter final place looks a realistic prospect for either with Carlos Berlocq or a qualifier awaiting in round two.
Jerzy Janowicz withdrew from the Hopman Cup as a precautionary measure and instead begins his season here. Inconsistencies still remain in his game but the Pole’s talent is clear to see. A matchup with Alexandr Dolgopolov promises to be an exciting affair should the Ukranian manage to defeat Edouard Roger-Vasselin first up. However, the Frenchman is 3-0 against Dolgopolov but two of those meetings are longer than 5 years ago.
Controversy will always surround Bernard Tomic but his performances in Australia never usually disappoint – something that can’t be said for much of the rest of his seasons! It would not be a surprise if he made the final or even defended his title. He plays Chennai semi finalist Marcel Granollers to open his campaign with the winner playing either Jarkko Nieminen or a qualifier. Tomic defeated Nieminen in three sets in his run to the title last year.
SF: Juan Martin Del Potro def. Marin Cilic
SF: Bernard Tomic def. Florian Mayer
F: Juan Martin Del Potro def. Bernard Tomic