ATP WTA

Murray learns Brisbane International draw

British number ones Andy Murray and Jo Konta have both found out who they will be opening 2018 against. Both players will be competing at the Brisbane International, which is littered in exciting talent.

Andy Murray will face either Ryan Harrison or Leonardo Mayer at the Brisbane International in his first competitive match of 2018. The draw, which was made on Saturday morning, will also see British number two Kyle Edmund face Denis Shapovalov in a rematch from the Canadian’s entertaining win at Queen’s in 2017.

In the women’s event, Jo Konta will be thrown in the deep end when she faces US Open beaten finalist Madison Keys, while top seed Garbine Muguruza will open against Carina Witthoeft or Aleksandra Krunic after receiving a bye into round 2.

Good draw for Murray

After making a surprise appearance against Roberto Bautista Agut in Abu Dhabi on Friday, it was reported that Murray hopped on the last plane to Brisbane late in the evening.  His appearance in Brisbane was cast in doubt when he travelled to Australia later than expected following his injury recovery, but he is in the draw alongside the likes of defending champion Grigor Dimitrov and Nick Kyrgios.

Seeded second, Murray will be relatively pleased to face one of Ryan Harrison or Leonardo Mayer, two players the Scot has yet to lose against. His projected quarter finalist could be Damir Dzumhur, who had a fantastic season last year, while the likes of Mischa Zverev, Steve Johnson and Milos Raonic could lie in wait at the semi finals stage. For Murray, completing a match and leaving Brisbane injury-free should be his target in what is an unexpected appearance for the Brit.

Elsewhere in the men’s draw, Grigor Dimitrov will open 2018 against either a qualifier or wild card John Millman, while Nick Kyrgios will face one of Frances Tiafoe or Matthew Ebden. Kyle Edmund will take on Denis Shapovalov, while Next Gen champion Hyeon Chung will open against Gilles Muller in what should be two excellent opening round ties.

Star names out in force in women’s draw

In the WTA Premier event, a fantastic draw awaits fans with a tantalising clash between Johanna Konta and Madison Keys the headline match in round 1. Konta, who struggled towards the end of 2017, would have liked an easier opener, but will be guaranteed to face a wild card in the second round should she win, after Destanee Aiava and Ajla Tomljanovic were drawn against each other.

Caroline Garcia will open against Alize Cornet, Elina Svitolina will face Carla Suarez Navarro, while home favourite Ash Barty will play Lesia Tsurenko. Top seeds Garbine Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova both receive byes into the second round, in a tournament which shows just how strong the WTA is right now. Other stand-out opening matches include Petra Kvitova against Anett Kontaveit and Sam Stosur against seventh seed Anastasija Sevastova.

In qualifying, British number 2 Heather Watson is one match away from the main draw after defeating Misaki Doi 6-2 6-4 on Saturday. The Brit served nine aces and won 93% of her first service games as she claimed a comfortable victory. She faces US Open quarter finalist and former top 15 player Kaia Kanepi in the final qualifying round on Sunday.

Predictions

It’s tough to look away from defending champion Grigor Dimitrov, who will be looking to build on his ATP World Tours title from November. With the other top four seeds returning from injuries, Dimitrov will be eyeing a successful defence of his title as he looks to mount another challenge for the Australian Open.

In the women’s draw, a potential quarter final between Ash Barty and defending champion Karolina Pliskova could determine the eventual champion. However, if Jo Konta can get past Keys in the opening round, then she has to be considered one of the favourites. The Brit, who will be coaches by Michael Joyce, is getting The Big Racket tip.

Andy Murray
Marianne Bevis @ Flickr
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