A new year and a new season of tennis to excite fans all across the world is nearly upon us and as ever the curtain raiser is the Hopman Cup, a tournament played in Australia where 8 different countries battle it out for the trophy, with both men’s and women’s singles, followed by mixed doubles matches.
Great Britain have sent their strongest possible team, comprising of respective British number 1’s Andy Murray and Heather Watson. Murray competes off the back of a disappointing 2014, which saw him lose his Wimbledon crown and saw him pose very little threat in any of the major tournaments.
Watson had a mixed year herself, sharply rising back through the rankings through the summer and was only narrowly beaten in the Wimbledon second round by Angelique Kerber. In the traditional end of season “Asian Swing” tournaments however she disappointed, winning just one game before finishing her season early with a ranking of world number 49.
Ward among those looking for strong start
Elsewhere in the tennis world, there are three ATP 250 events with two GB stars of the previous year, James Ward and Kyle Edmund both starting with a qualifying event in Doha, Qatar.
Another GB prospect Liam Broady, from Stockport, is playing in a Challenger event in Happy Valley, Western Australia. He will enter the tournament in the main draw unlike Aussie born Brit Brydan Klein, who must overcome two rounds of qualifying first.
Robson fans made to wait for return
On the female side of things, Britain’s number 2 Johanna Konta and number 3 Naomi Broady are both in WTA Tour qualifying action, Konta in Shenzhen, China and Broady, brother of Liam, is in Auckland, New Zealand.
The long awaited return of Laura Robson from injury may be prolonged a little longer after she announced that she had pulled out of a tournament in Hobart the following week. Also, GB tennis exile Dan Evans has shown no sign of an imminent return to the sport, the supremely talented 24-year old has not played since US Open qualifying last August.
A quick word on the doubles action this week, Andy Murray’ brother Jamie is in Brisbane partnering John Peers, Dom Inglot is alongside Florian Mergea in Doha, former Wimbledon doubles champion Jonathan Marray partners Yen-Hsun Lu in Chennai, India all in ATP 250 events.