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Verdasco Hoping For Strong Start

Brisbane, Australia

Fernando Verdasco© Getty ImagesFernando Verdasco is hoping for a repeat of his 2009 run to the Brisbane final.

World No. 9 Fernando Verdasco will be one three Top 10 players to grace the 2011 Brisbane International field next week and the Spaniard is eager to make the best possible start to the new season.

“It’s always important when you are starting a new season to try and start the best as possible,” said Verdasco, who finished runner-up to Radek Stepanek in Brisbane two years ago. “I think that the performance I did two years ago [at the Australian Open] was partly due to the level I played here in Brisbane and that’s one of the reasons I decided to come here again, to try and get to that level of confidence in my game.”

The 27-year-old Verdasco is seeded No. 3 and will open his campaign against German Benjamin Becker. Speaking to the Australian media on Saturday, the left-hander said he has put his disappointing results from the end of 2010 behind him and is hoping his hard work in the pre-season will reap early rewards.

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“I feel great. I’ve been practising very hard this pre-season, a few days in Miami and then almost all my pre-season in Las Vegas like the past two years. I’m feeling great. I have a lot of confidence and looking forward to making this year the best year of my career.

“There are many good players in this tournament and it’s going to be very tough not just to win, but even to get to the finals again,” added the Spaniard. “But, I’m feeling good and I just came here to try and do my best and try to win the tournament.”

Also in the bottom half of the draw with Verdasco is defending champion and No. 2 seed Andy Roddick, who will face Australian wild card Marinko Matosevic in the first round. The American, who defeated Stepanek in last year’s final, could meet fifth-seeded Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis in the quarter-finals.

DEUCE Extra: Roddick As Hungry As Ever

World No. 5 Robin Soderling is the top seed in the 32-man field. The Swede, who reached the quarter-finals (l. Stepanek) on his Brisbane debut in 2009, opens against a qualifier, with the prospect of facing Michael Berrer or Dudi Sela in the second round.

Fourth-seeded American Mardy Fish has been dealt a difficult draw. The World No. 16, who heads up the second quarter of the draw, could face 2009 champion and last year’s runner-up Stepanek in the second round. The 32-year-old Czech player begins against the 2010 ATP World Tour Newcomer of the Year, Tobias Kamke.

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