Both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will be back in action in official ATP events very soon. Federer is the favorite to win the 2016 ATP Brisbane event, a tournament that he won last year. Meanwhile, Djokovic will contest the ATP Doha draw as the World No. 1 looks for a title ahead of the 2016 Australian Open.
Both tournaments, which are 250-level events, will run from January 4th to January 10th. While neither event is particularly important when it comes to the upper echelon of rankings on the ATP Tour, they are important for getting back into competitive play as the Australian Open looms.
Joining Federer in Brisbane will be Kei Nishikori, Marin Cilic, Milos Raonic, Grigor Dimitrov, and Bernard Tomic. A 28-player tournament, Federer will enjoy a bye in the first round along with the other highest four seeded players. Each player with a bye will need only to win four matches to claim the title – making it one of the easier titles out there on the ATP Tour.
There are no byes in Doha, where Djokovic will be top-seeded. However, the event offers a ton of prize money compared to most 250-level tournaments. With over $1.2M at stake, players won’t be complaining about not having a bye in the first round, keeping in mind that none of the pre-Australian Open events offer even half of that amount.
Accordingly, Doha looks as though it will be a difficult event to negotiate through. Rafael Nadal and Tomas Berdych will both be there. Furthermore, Spaniards David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez, and Fernando Verdasco round out the main headliners.
Frenchman Richard Gasquet was on the players list, but reports are that he has withdrawn from the Australian Open with a back injury. As such, he shouldn’t be in the draws of the events that precede the first Grand Slam of the year.
Another event that will run concurrently with Brisbane and Doha is ATP Chennai. Stan Wawrinka will be the headliner there in what looks like a relatively shallow draw. The main events, so to speak, will certainly be the Federer, Djokovic, and Nadal matches next week as the 2016 season starts.