The start of the ATP season

There are three ATP tournaments that kick off the 2011 tennis calendar…
ATP Doha
Doha has the strongest draw with Nadal and Federer as the two top seeds. Nadal opens up against Karol Beck and is likely to face his first test in the QF where his projected opponent is the talented Ernests Gulbis. Davydenko could meet Nadal in the SF; however after a disappointing 2010 season this could be a make or break season for Nikolay and i can’t see him reaching the SF’s. In the bottom half, Federer opens up against a qualifier with his stiffest opposition likely to come from Viktor Troicki and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, the latter who is making his comeback from injury and will want to get as many games as possible with a vast number of ranking points to defend at the Australian Open. On paper, you can’t look past another match-up with Federer and Nadal, which if it did happen would be their fifth meeting in 2 months.
ATP Brisbane
Brisbane sees the likes of Robin Soderling, Andy Roddick and Fernando Verdasco take to the court. The number 1 seed, Soderling has a fairly routine draw with Denis Istomin and Mardy Fish his toughest potential opponents up to the final. In the bottom half, Andy Roddick opens up against Matosevic. He could meet Alexander Dologopolov in the 2nd round which would be a good early test for Roddick. Fernando Verdasco stuttered in 2010 and a possible 2nd round match with Giles Simon looks to be a tricky one against someone who should continue to climb the rankings this year. Kevin Anderson and Marcos Baghdatis will also be threats in the bottom half. Ultimately, I think Soderling will be victorious…
ATP Chennai
Chennai has the weakest draw of the three tournaments with Tomas Berdych, Marin Cilic and Stan Wawrinka the top three seeds. Berdych had a superb 2010 reaching his first grand slam final; however an alarming dip in the second half of season means there are still question marks to whether he is a challenger to the top 4. He opens against Frederico Gil and could face Jeremy Chardy in the QF; he should however reach at least the SF’s where Wawrinka is his projected opponent. In the bottom half, Cilic will have to start the season well with a huge number of ranking points to defend. Kei Nishikori in the 1st round will be a massive test for Cilic and show where what kind of form he is in for 2011. Janko Tipsarevic, Richard Gasquet and Xavier Malisse are also in the bottom half with Gasquet for me, the most likely to do well here.

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