The ATP opened the 2016 season with three tournaments that were all played over the last week, ATP Doha, ATP Brisbane, and ATP Chennai. The events, which are all bottom-rung tour-level events, are now over, and they saw the top-seeded players win two while a fourth-seeded player took another.
ATP Doha was the first event to conclude and it featured a blockbuster final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. The championship match was a disappointing one however, as the World No. 1 had little trouble with the Spaniard, dropping just two games in a straight-sets victory. There are two ATP events currently running, one in Sydney and another in Auckland, however the World No. 1 will be idle this upcoming week. Tennis fans will catch him next in the first round of the 2016 Australian Open, an event that he is expected to win.
In Chennai, Stan Wawrinka cooled off upstart Borna Coric to claim that title. The final ended at 6-3, 7-5 as Stan, a worthy challenger to Djokovic down-under, looks to peak ahead of Melbourne Park. The title marks the 12th of Wawrinka’s career and his first since winning ATP Tokyo during 2015’s Asian swing. Wawrinka will take the next week off for official matches as well, and his fans will also catch him next week in round one of the Aussie.
The only surprise champion this past week was a mild one in Milos Raonic. In the Brisbane draw, Raonic was seeded worse than Kei Nishikori, Marin Cilic, and Roger Federer. However, the Canadian claimed the title through Ivan Dodig, Lucas Pouille, and Bernard Tomic before upsetting Federer in the championship match.
The result really is a head-turning one heading into the Aussie. Raonic spent much of 2015 either sidelined or playing below par. Having won St. Petersburgh in late 2015 additional to Brisbane here in early 2016, the Canadian’s form is unquestionably strong. His ranking is such that he might end up with a difficult fourth-round match in Melbourne, but Raonic still appears as though he’s ready for anyone.
Ahead of the main draw of the Australian Open, which starts on January 18th, there’s still plenty of tennis. Auckland, barring withdrawals, will feature David Ferrer, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, John Isner, and Jack Sock. Sydney expects Dimitrov, Tomic, Dominic Thiem, and Alexandr Dolgopolov.
The tennis events that are played in the week immediately before a slam rarely feature the Grand Slam favorites. That explains the absence of the highest ranked players on tour in the week ahead.
For those that can’t wait for the 18th, outside court qualifiers start on January 13th. While there’s rarely a player in quallies that is considered an important one for the main draw, there’s been a few majors where a qualifier has done some main draw damage. Raonic, at the 2011 Aussie is a case in point.