Nadal and Nishikori out, but strong Brisbane draw still includes Murray

The same injury issues that plagued the ATP Tour throughout the second half of the 2017 campaign are still dominating the headlines as Week 1 of the 2018 season looms. For example, the upcoming Brisbane International will be missing both Rafael Nadal and Kei Nishikori.

Still, the 250-point tournament features an impressive field of 28 led by top seed and 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov. The other three first-round bye recipients are Andy Murray, Milos Raonic, and Nick Kyrgios. Murray and Raonic have also been dealing with physical problems that kept them mostly sidelined following Wimbledon this past summer. The former world No. 1 took the court briefly at the recent Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, where he lost a one-set exhibition against Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2.

“I felt better as it went on,” said Murray, who dropped the first four games against the Spaniard. “Obviously, I was a little slow at the start. When you haven’t competed for a while it takes time to get up with the pace. I will need to keep improving. I was lucky to be able to come out and play. It was good fun; I’ve missed it.”

In the absences of Murray, Nadal, Nishikori, Raonic, Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, and others at various times last season, Dimitrov was among those who took advantage. In addition to his first career Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati, the Bulgarian triumphed at the O2 Arena–going undefeated with victories over Dominic Thiem, David Goffin, Pablo Carreno Busta, Jack Sock, and Goffin again in the final.

Dimitrov awaits either John Millman or a qualifier in his Brisbane opener. That top section of the draw also includes 2017 Sydney champion Gilles Muller, Denis Shapovalov, and Kyle Edmund. Dimitrov vs. Kyrgios is a potential semifinal in what would be a rematch of the Cincinnati final. As for the bottom half of the bracket, just about anything could happen with Murray and Raonic heading into this year as obvious question marks. Assuming those two men are still less than 100 percent, Damir Dzumhur, Mischa Zverev, Jared Donaldson, or Ryan Harrison may be able to capitalize on an early 2018 opportunity.

9 Comments on Nadal and Nishikori out, but strong Brisbane draw still includes Murray

    • Thanks Mira.

      Nice interview done with Moya. It’s true that Rafa needs more longer rest these days. I do hope Rafa delaying his start to the 2018 season is done out of precaution rather than still feeling discomfort in his knee.

      As for Rafa playing very aggressive tennis during 2017, well I feel it’s only during the clay season and from USO onwards. He wasn’t that good on grass even though he got by his first three rounds of Wimbledon quite comfortably. The test on grass was always against the great servers and big hitters and it’s obvious Rafa was nervous when facing Muller in R4 and so played poorly to lose first two sets and put himself into a disadvantaged position.

      He wasn’t good at IW and Miami too, seemed to me he was still having doubts. He was also playing grinding tennis during AO2017, esp against aggressive players like A Zverev and Dimi. In those two matches, Rafa was more counterpunching than being aggressive and to me that’s why he needed five sets to win the matches. Had he started off being the aggressor, esp vs Zverev, I think he could save some energy and finished the matches earlier.

      One thing I wish Rafa could do is that he starts off his matches being the aggressor rather than the counterpuncher when facing more aggressive/offensive players. He has to fight fire with fire, instead of reverting back to counterpuncher mode and has a hard time countering aggression from his opponents. I think this is one area Moya should look into and encourages Rafa to come out all guns blazing when facing such opponents.

      • You’re welcome Lucky!…And once again i very much agree with everything u said…All of it..Yeah,like u..i wish to see Rafa will be very aggressive in his 1st match at AO…Ending the point quickly as soon as he get a chance coz i’m pretty sure if he didn’t do that..his opponents will..

        They all know that Rafa is very vulnerable right now..so they will go out gun blazing from all angles and make him run & run..Honestly,i’m very scared to see his 1st match..i just hope Rafa will not get much nervous so it’s easy for him to be aggressive,if not then i’m pretty sure we will see grinding tennis from the back of the court almost all the time…

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