As expected Andy Murray announced his withdrawal from the ATP Brisbane International tournament yesterday as he has still not recovered from his troublesome hip injury, which may now require surgery. This adds to the disappointment of Nadal and Djokovic withdrawing from their respective tournaments due to their respective knee and elbow injuries and it is looking ever more likely that the trio will not feature at this year’s Australian Open. If this is the case it will seriously dilute the quality of the Australian Open and future tournament draws and with so many of the top players now being plagued by long-term injuries it must be time for the ATP, ITF and Grand Slam tournament owners and organisers to address the situation.
At Brisbane there have already been some upsets with South Korean NextGen star Chung defeating fifth seed Muller, Dolgopolov beating sixth seed Schwartzman and Isotmin knocking out one of my outright tips Dzumhur. The same occurred at Doha with Coric defeating second seed Carreno-Busta as advised, German Struff knocked out another of my other outright tips third seed Berdych and German Gojowczyk sent Serbian sixth seed Krajinovic packing. By the time you read this article the action at Brisbane will have finished and we will know if third seed Kyrgios and fourth seed Raonic got off to a winning start against Ebden and de Minaur respectively.
There’s a busy day of action at Doha with top-seed Thiem facing Bedene, fifth seed Gasquet faces Greek NextGen star Tsitsipas and seventh seed Verdasco (advised outright) faces Rublev another NextGen star and this could be the match of the day as the head-to-head stands at 1-1 and both players are very talented. One other match interests me which is between Georgian Basiliashvili and Croatian Coric. Coric is the favourite after ousting second-seed Carreno-Busta, but he could be upset today as Basilashvili leads the head-to-head 2-0 and both wins came last year including one on hard courts.
At Pune top-seed Cilic starts his campaign against Indian Wild Card Ramanathan and second seed Anderson (advised outright) faces Brazilian qualifier Montiero. The top-two seeds should win, but Ramanathan may give Cilic are run for his money as he will be cheered on by a passionate home crowd, his best surface is hard courts and he’s an improving player who should brake in to the top-100 this season. Third seed Bautista Agut faces veteran Simon who leads the head-to-head 4-1 and I would not be surprised if Simon causes an upset here. Fourth seed Paire faces Fucsovics from Hungary, fifth seed Haase faces Chilean Jarry and eighth seed Herbert faces another talented Indian Bhambri, who is also verging on the top 100.