The 2015 ATP season may have just ended, but tennis fans will not have to wait long for the new season to start. In five weeks, the 2016 season will kick off in Brisbane, and it is hard to ask for a better way to start. A star studded field will contest the first tournament of the year down under, led by a handful of top thirty players.
At the top of the draw will be the reigning champion and currently world number three Roger Federer. The seventeen-time major champion will be appearing in Brisbane for the third year in a row, having reached the final in both previous appearances. In 2014, he was defeated by home-hero Lleyton Hewitt, but he bounced back last year to defeat Canadian young-gun Milos Raonic. Federer is not the lone grand slam champion in the field. 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic, who suffered a drop off in 2015, will also be competing.
Raonic (left) and Federer (right) after their 2015 final. Photo: AFP
Federer will also be joined by fellow top ten player Kei Nishikori. Nishikori was solid in 2015, but failed to match his breakout US Open finals performance and slipped slightly in the rankings. He reached the semi-finals in Brisbane last year, losing to Raonic. Raonic himself will start his season down under as well, returning to the site of his strong run in 2015 where he took out his nemesis Nishikori before falling in a tight three-setter to Federer in the final. He is hoping for a bounce-back season after an injury-plagued 2015.
The host country will be well represented in the nation’s second-largest tournament. Bernard Tomic, Sam Groth and Thanasi Kokkinakis will all be participating and will have the crowd at their backs. Tomic will be the big hope, currently ranked 18th and will likely be seeded in the top eight. All three men generally play well on home soil. Tomic is a two-time finalist in Sydney and last year reached the round of sixteen at the Australian Open. Groth reached the third round in Melbourne in 2015, losing to Tomic and Kokkinakis lost in the second round to Groth.
Tomic at last year's Australian Open. Photo: AAP
Other key names appearing in Brisbane include “Baby Fed” himself Grigor Dimitrov, Davis Cup finalist David Goffin, fifteenth ranked Gilles Simon, and young gun Dominic Thiem.
Here is the complete entry list (courtesy of brisbaneinternational.com.au):
Roger Federer (SUI) - No.3
Kei Nishikori (JPN) – No.8
Marin Cilic (CRO) – No.13
Milos Raonic (CAN) – No.14
Gilles Simon (FRA) – No.15
David Goffin (BEL) – No.16
Bernard Tomic (Qld) – No.18
Dominic Thiem (AUT) – No.20
Viktor Troicki (SRB) – No.22
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) – No.28
Steve Johnson (USA) – No.32
Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) – No.37
Hyeon Chung (KOR) – No.51
Jerzy Janowicz (POL) – No.57
Radek Stepanek (CZE) – No.57
Sam Querrey (USA) – No.59
Sam Groth (Vic) – No.60
Denis Istomin (UZB) – No.61
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) – No.65
Denis Kudla (USA) – No.69
Nicolas Mahut (FRA) – No.71
[WC] Thanasi Kokkinakis (SA) – No.78
The Brisbane International kicks off on January 3rd, 2016.