The 2015 ATP tour is here and Federer's campaign kicks off in Brisbane sometime next week. It's his second appearance in Queensland in as many years since his split with IMG and decision to no longer play the Exhibition matches at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships or ATP event in Doha.
Fed's 2014 Brisbane endeavour ended with a disappointing defeat to Lleyton Hewitt in the final so I'm hopeful he can go one better this year and take home the title.
Despite only being a 250 event the field is relatively strong with players all looking to get some decent preparation for the Australian Open. I know Fed has said before he treats this purely as a tournament and not a warm up event but that's surely lip service and he will be looking to find some rhythm on the plexicushion ahead of the main event in 2 weeks time.
In terms of the draw it's looking reasonable on paper. Both Raonic and Nishikori are in the bottom half whereas Fed has landed in Dimitrov's section. You can check out the projected opponent below:
Federer's Seeded Opponents
- Round 1: Bye
- Round 2: Qualifier / John Millman
- Quarter Final: Gilles Simon
- Semi Final: Grigor Dimitrov
- Final: Milos Raonic / Kei Nishikori
Thoughts on the Draw
It's always a tough ask to assess a 250 draw as the small number of players mean it starts easy and gets difficult almost immediately after that. No real easing yourself into the tournament; like we saw last year blink and Roger's already in the final.
First up is a qualifier or Aussie wildcard John Millman who's career has been plagued by injury. He has only ever been in the main draw of a slam once and to be honest his resume is filled with challengers and wildcards into homesoil tournaments. He did have a good run in Sydney back in 2013 and has been into the 2nd round in Brisbane before but I can't see him winning more than 5 games here.
The quarter final if the seeding system pans out could be a tough one against Gilles Simon. We know Simon causes Roger difficulties because he is able to send him into a state of sleep with his mundane but ultra effective ground game. Roger's had the upper hand of late winning the last 5 meetings but you can never rule Simon out if he's moving well and striking it early from the back of the court. Easily one of the purest ball strikers in the game just with limited power and never enough aggression to force the issue.
The semi final matchup looks likely to be against Dimitrov whom Roger beat comprehensively in Basel at the end of last year. Apparently Dimitrov has been testing a new frame in Brisbane so he might be switching racquets for 2015. I always thought he used a Pro Staff 95 but I've read on a number of forums he was using some custom Wilson 93sq” racquet; so who knows. Dimitrov is obviously capable but he'd need Roger to have a bit of an off day to come through I think.
The final is then seeded to be against either Raonic or Nishikori. I'm expecting Nishikori to come through this section of the draw based on his form last year. There's always question marks over him when playing in back to back tournaments but coming in fresh from the off season he should be physically fine and more than a handful on this type of surface where taking the ball early pays dividends.
My early prediction is that I'll pick Fed to make the final 🙂
Elsewhere in the Tennis World
Mubadala kicked off on New Years Day with Djokovic, Nadal, Murray and Wawrinka all in attendance. Murray had to battle past Lopez in his first match but then crushed Nadal 6-2 6-0 in the semi finals. Djokovic had a similarly easy time against Wawrinka who had beaten Almagro a day earlier. Unfortunately the final was a washout as Djokovic withdrew due to illness and Murray was also struggling with a shoulder problem. Not good signs for him really.
Along with Brisbane the main focus will be on Doha which has both Djokovic and Nadal in the field. Should be a fast court so would be interesting to see a Djokdal final on that surface.
Chennai also starts this week with Wawrinka looking to defend his title. He was beaten handily by Djokovic in Abu Dhabi so it will be interesting to see if he can carry some form into Melbourne where he is of course defending Champion.
Back to Brisbane and I'm assuming Roger's first match will be on Thursday. Live chat should be on as normal although I'm away for the next few days so might not be online. It all depends on the match times really so I'm hoping to catch his first match. Hopp suisse!