Dimitrov Looks To Ride Finals Wave Into Brisbane
Former champions and breakthrough players of 2017 start off their season in Brisbane
The ATP World Tour kicks off its 2018 season this week at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp, the starting line for an exciting marathon of twists and turns, ultimately leading to the finish line: the prestigious Nitto ATP Finals in London.
Seeded first is defending champion and winner of the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals, Grigor Dimitrov, who currently sits at a career-high of World No. 3 in the Emirates ATP Rankings as a result of his impressive triumph at the season-ending event.
“That was definitely one of my biggest highlights,” said Dimitrov of his landmark victory in London last season. “It was such a long year ... so to be able to come to an end of the season the way I did was something that I really appreciated and cherished a lot as well. Also I think that showed a lot to my team and of course to myself what we’re capable of doing and just pushing the limits even more now.”
Having defeated three Top 10 players en route to victory in Brisbane last year to open his most successful season to date, the Bulgarian looks to continue his fine run of form in Australia and kick off 2018 with emphasis.
“It’s pretty amazing. I’ve been playing this tournament for quite some time and it’s been a dream of mine to win it and being able to do that last year was something that definitely propelled my year into a great success,” said the 26 year old.
“You always count on that start. The start of the year is so important. You should never get too negative or too positive but … I’m pretty pleased to be back here and excited to get that first match going on.”
Former Brisbane winners Andy Murray and Milos Raonic make their long awaited return to the ATP World Tour after shutting down their seasons early last year to nurse recurring injuries. Murray, the champion in 2012 and 2013, opens against either Ryan Harrison or Leonardo Mayer; Raonic, who defeated Roger Federer in the 2016 final, plays Steve Johnson or Aussie wild card Alex de Minaur to kick off his season.
Elsewhere in the draw, 2017 Australian Open quarter-finalist Mischa Zverev faces off against a qualifier in the first round, while Damir Dzumhur, who won his first two ATP World Tour titles in St. Petersburg and Moscow last year, encounters Denis Istomin in his opening match of the new season. Home favourite Nick Kyrgios, seeded third at this year’s tournament, will open against either fellow Aussie Matthew Ebden or American Frances Tiafoe.
2017’s inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals victor Hyeon Chung starts his Brisbane campaign against fifth-seeded Gilles Muller, while 18-year-old Denis Shapovalov, the ATP Star of presented by Emirates, looks to build on his previous season’s success with a start against Kyle Edmund, against whom he owns a 2-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head series lead.
In doubles, Shapovalov teams up with compatriot Raonic to play the first seeded duo of Henri Kontinen and John Peers in what promises to be an exciting first-round encounter, while Lleyton Hewitt steps out of retirement to partner Jordan Thompson against Dimitrov and Harrison.