Although all focus is now firmly on the Australian Open, there was plenty of fascinating action from the ATP tour last week.
With the 250 tournaments in Sydney as well as the invitational Kooyong and Adelaide tournaments going on, there was plenty of lower mid to low top-50 players out looking to pick up ranking points and form going into the Aussie Open.
Grigor Dimitrov ready to put the disappointment of 2015 behind him
No titles or finals from Grigor Dimitrov last year saw him slip all the way from 11th at the end of 2014 to 28th at the end of 2015, and split with his coach Roger Rasheed.
After a disappointing year in which he was supposed to vault into the top-five in the world, the young Bulgarian has started the season strong, making the semi-finals in Brisbane and the final last week in Sydney.
He’ll look to go deep in the AO, where he has historically been good. He lost in the fourth round to Andy Murray last year and made the quarters the year before. A similar run this year will firmly announce his intentions to climb the rankings once again in 2016.
Viktor Troicki now twice champion in Sydney – can he transfer this form to Melbourne?
Viktor Troicki took out the aforementioned man in the final in Sydney this year – his second title at the event in a row.
Despite this success in Australia, he has typically been ordinary at the Open, going as far as the third round only twice, in 2011 2015, in his 14-year career.
Hopefully for Troicki he can enjoy a bit more success in Melbourne this year – he takes on Daniel Munoz-de la Nava in the first round.
Fair game or back to bad old Bernie?
As the Australian public is now acutely aware, Bernard Tomic pulled out of the Sydney International in rather controversial circumstances last week.
Trailing Russian Teymuraz Gabasvhili, Tomic complained of nausea, and when communicating with the umpire, the microphone picked up that he was “happy with his draw next week” in Melbourne.
Despite getting Lleyton Hewitt’s seal of legitimacy, not everyone was happy with Bernie’s excuse for abandoning the tournament – it’s up to you to decide whether there’s more to it than not.
Lleyton Hewitt looking far from “rusty”
Over the past two weeks, Lleyton Hewitt has done the rounds at the Hopman Cup in Perth and the Adelaide invitational in his hometown. From what we’ve seen this year, despite his career coming to a close, he means business.
He beat young American superstar Jack Sock in straight sets in Perth, and pushed top-10 Croat Marin Cilic to three sets in Adelaide, and in typical Lleyton fashion, he looks like he’s not going to go out lying down.
Despite the disappointment of getting fellow Aussie James Duckworth in the first round at Melbourne Park, he will be keen to go out and get a win in what is his last go-around at his favourite tournament.
Novak Djokovic to take out the Australian Open – again
Although my tip has come after his first round victory over young Korean Hyeon Chung, I cannot see Novak Djokovic being beaten to the major prize at the Australian Open.
The biggest threat to Djokovic will be, in my opinion, Stan Warwinka. The big Swiss has a good record against Djokovic in this tournament, and there’s no doubt all tennis fans would froth at the mouth if they faced off again this year.
Without further ado, I’ll see you in two weeks, when I come out of Aussie Open hibernation.