Brisbane, Doha, and Pune previews and predictions

The 2018 season is here, figuratively not a moment too soon for just about everyone other than Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer—who monopolized 2017’s four Grand Slams with two titles apiece. Literally, though, it has arrived too soon. Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, and Kei Nishikori are all injured, while Andy Murray is still less than 100 percent even though he left his name on the Brisbane entry list.

Despite the myriad of injuries, Week 1 of the 2018 campaign is not without intrigue. Murray is joined in Brisbane by recent Nitto ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic, and Nick Kyrgios. Dominic Thiem is the No. 1 seed in Doha ahead of U.S. Open semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta and Tomas Berdych. Mainstays of India’s lone ATP tournament (now in Pune instead of Chennai) are back, among them Marin Cilic, Roberto Bautista Agut, and Benoit Paire.

Brisbane International

Where: Brisbane, Australia
Surface: Hard
Prize money
: $468,910
Points
: 250

Top seed: Grigor Dimitrov
Defending champion: Grigor Dimitrov

Draw analysis: With top players dropping like flies all around him during the second half of 2017, Dimitrov captured his first Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati and also triumphed at the Nitto ATP Finals. The story could be a similar one at the start of 2018, with Dimitrov seeded No. 1 in Brisbane thanks to Nadal’s withdrawal. Nishikori is also sidelined, so the Bulgarian will have every opportunity to defend his title. That being said, Dimitrov’s draw is not a simple one. He could run into either Denis Shapovalov or Kyle Edmund in the quarterfinals before a potential showdown against Nick Kyrgios in the semis.

Question marks abound in the bottom half of the bracket, where both Murray and Raonic reside. Neither one is expected to be 100 percent for this season-opening event, in which case a confident Damir Dzumhur may do damage. Dzumhur earned the first two ATP titles of his career last fall in St. Petersburg and Moscow. Mischa Zverev, Jared Donaldson, and Ryan Harrison could also be factors on this side of the draw.

First-round upset alert: Hyeon Chung over (5) Gilles Muller. Muller started last season strong with a title in Sydney, but he has never done much in Brisbane (1-2 lifetime in the main draw plus two failed qualifying attempts). He also missed most of the fall swing with an elbow injury, whereas Chung wrapped up 2017 by winning the inaugural NextGen tournament in Milan. Chung should really be considered the favorite in this one.

Semifinal predictions: Grigor Dimitrov over Nick Kyrgios and Damir Dzumhur over Steve Johnson

Final: Dimitrov over Dzumhur

Qatar ExxonMobil Open

Where: Doha, Qatar
Surface: Hard
Points
: 250
Prize money
: $1,286,675

Top seed: Dominic Thiem
2017 champion: Novak Djokovic (not playing)

Draw analysis: With Murray playing in Brisbane and both Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga sidelined, this does not boast the same quality of recent Doha draws. Thiem, Carreno Busta, Berdych, and Albert Ramos-Vinolas are the top four seeds but do not have the benefit of first-round byes (as is the case in Brisbane and Pune, where the fields are 28 instead of 32). That could be especially bad news for Thiem, because will open with the dangerous Evgeny Donskoy—one of just five men to beat Federer in 2017. Richard Gasquet is a potential quarterfinal foe for Thiem, while Berdych could face Gael Monfils in round two.

In the bottom half of the bracket, Carreno Busta may have a difficult opener on his hands in the form of Borna Coric. U.S. Open quarterfinalist Andrey Rublev, the top-ranked unseeded player in Doha, will get things started against Cedrik-Marcel Stebe prior to a possible battle with Fernando Verdasco.

First-round upset alert: Borna Coric over (2) Pablo Carreno Busta. Carreno Busta was nothing short of a disaster after his surprising semifinal run at the U.S. Open. The Spaniard should have locked up a London berth with ease, but instead he needed Nadal’s withdrawal to appear as an alternate. Coric won 24 ATP-level matches this past season and 2018 will likely be his time to shine just as 2017 was for Carreno Busta.

Semifinal predictions: Tomas Berdych over Dominic Thiem and Borna Coric over Feliciano Lopez

Final: Berdych over Coric

Tata Open

Where: Pune, India
Surface: Hard
Points
: 250
Prize money
: $501,345

Top seed: Marin Cilic
Defending champion: Roberto Bautista Agut

Draw analysis: This tournament has moved from Chennai to Pune, but that did nothing to deter the two-time champion Cilic. He is once again beginning another season in India, where he triumphed in 2009 and 2010. Cilic’s 2017 campaign was highlighted by a run to the Wimbledon final, which propelled him to a berth in the Nitto ATP Finals. The Croat’s Pune draw is a good one through two matches, but a possible semifinal showdown against Bautista Agut—the defending champion—could be tough.

The bottom half of the bracket is arguably weaker, thus giving Anderson—the recent Mubadala World Tennis Championship winner—a prime opportunity to begin 2018 with nothing less than a final appearance. The 6’8’’ South African is on course to meet either Paire or Robin Haase in the semis.

First-round upset alert: Marco Cecchinato over (8) Pierre-Hugues Herbert. Herbert has no business being seeded in an ATP-level singles tournament, but that is the reality of things in Pune. The Frenchman should have an edge on anything other than clay, but an upset is not entirely out of the question. Cecchinato did well to put himself on the brink of Australian Open direct entry.

Semifinal predictions: Roberto Bautista Agut over Marin Cilic and Kevin Anderson over Robin Haase

Final: Bautista Agut over Anderson

Comments and your own predictions are appreciated!

25 Comments on Brisbane, Doha, and Pune previews and predictions

  1. I see Djoko is out of Doha; not good that after six months rest his elbow is still not fully recovered. It looks like he’s not going to do what Fed and Rafa did in 2017(and Rafa in 2013), after coming back from long break. Murray is in better shape than Djoko, yet to find out his form in the main tour.

    The rest: Stan still not ready, Kei not ready and Raonic is playing at Brisbane so let’s see how he does there.

    PS. I want to see how is Delpo doing but I think he’ll only play in second week of Jan, in Auckland I think.

  2. Brisbane: Ive just been watching my first match (Lucic-Baroni vs Maria)of the new season, great moment!!
    On the ATP side, its so hard to predict , but Ive gone for Murray going out early to Dzumhur , and Raonic in the final losing to Dimitrov.
    And Ive also got Chung winning his first two rounds, just going on recent form.

    Doha,Pune, haven’t a clue, no time.

  3. Brisbane –
    QF:
    Dimitrov over Muller
    Kyrgios over Dolgopolov
    Raonic over M. Zverev
    Harrison over Thompson
    SF:
    Kyrgios over Dimitrov
    Raonic over Harrison
    Final:
    Kyrgios over Raonic

  4. Doha –
    QF:
    Gasquet over Bedene
    Berdych over Gojowczyk
    Lopez over Ramos-Vinolas
    Verdasco over Carreno Busta
    SF:
    Berdych over Gasquet
    Verdasco over Lopez
    Final:
    Berdych over Verdasco

  5. Not with a lot of confidence :
    Doha:
    QF: Gasquet d Thiem (Beat him in Vienna)
    Berdych d Troicki
    Lopez d RV
    Verdasco d Coric
    SF: Berdych d Gasquet (H2H)
    Verdasco d Lopez (losing H2H, but is dark horse, did well last year )
    F :Berdych d Verdasco

    Pune :

    QF: Cilic d Bhambri (don’t trust Herbert)
    BA d Vesely
    Haase d Paire
    Anderson d Kukushkin

    SF: Bautista Agut d Cilic (BA played well this week)
    Anderson d Haase

    F: Anderson d BA. (Repeat of recent final)

  6. Brisbane :
    QF: Dimitrov d Chung
    Kyrgios d Shortmann
    Raonic d Zverev
    Dzumhur d Murray

    SF: Dimitrov d Kyrgios
    Raonic d Dzumhur

    F: Dimitrov d Raonic

  7. Pune –
    QF:
    Cilic over Bhambri
    Bautista Agut over Vesely
    Haase over Fucsovics
    Anderson over Albot
    SF:
    Cilic over Bautista Agut
    Anderson over Haase
    Final:
    Cilic over Anderson

  8. I think Murray’s condition is bad enough that he needs surgery, unless he wants to take half to full year off to let it heal naturally.

    I think of players like Hewitt, Gonzo and Nalby who had undergone hip surgeries. Had they come back playing at as high a level as before their surgeries? They were top 10/20 at some point during their careers, had they gotten back to the same level?

    It’s worrying for Murray, and he was quite upset that he couldn’t compete like before, and said he missed playing competitive tennis. Poor soul. I wish him well, and hope he has success in whatever he does to get back his health and fitness, and has many more years of competitive tennis in him.

  9. Many great tennis careers have ended prematurely because of chronic hip problems. Guga Kürten was one of those whom I missed most.

  10. First of all, I wish all of you happy New Year hoping for the best for all our favorite players!
    I am sad to learn Andy has serious hip issues! I want Rafa, Andy and Novak back on tour! Otherwise, ATP is crippled and tennis will not be the same! I don’t want to see old Fed dominating the field just because there is no competition! If all of them are there playing competitive matches then may the best player win!
    Here I hope they all get back sooner than later!

    Vamos Rafa!

  11. Novak is in Dubai, still wearing the elbow bandage. It’s up this whole arm now. Looking like Andy and Novak will pull out of the AO

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