2019 Brisbane International Preview

Returning for the 11th season running, the Brisbane International has gone from strength to strength each year with many of the tour’s top players choosing to kick-off their campaigns in Brisbane. Pat Rafter Arena has seen plenty of champions crowned with the likes of Andy Roddick, Roger Federer, Lleyton Hewitt, Kim Clijsters and Maria Sharapova all victorious. Victoria Azarenka, Serena Williams and Andy Murray have all managed to win it twice. In 2019, the Brisbane international will feature 7 previous Grand Slam winners. 

Both Nick Kyrgios and Elina Svitolina will return to defend their titles after success last year. While Svitolina will be looking to capitalise on her form where she was successful winning the WTA Tour Final in Singapore, the same can’t be said for Kyrgios, who hasn’t been in a semi-final for over 6 months and recent reports have it that he is battling a spider bite to be fit for round 1. 

In what shapes up as an interesting draw on the male side, fan favourite Rafael Nadal will be looking to get his campaign underway as the early favourite, ahead of the likes of Kei Nishikori, Grigor Dimitov, and Milos Raonic. Throw in the return of Andy Murray from a long injury lay-off, the number one ranked Australian, Alex De Minaur, and the ever impressive Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and this will be one action-packed draw right from the beginning. 

On the female side, 7 of top 10 females in the world will get their season underway in Brisbane with Elina Svitolina the early favourite. She will not have it easy as she attempts to get past former champion Karolina Pliskova and the two most recent US Open winner’s in Naomi Osaka and Sloane Stephens. Daria Gavrilova and Sam Stosur will headline for the Australians, while the likes of Johanna Konta, Petra Kvitova and Kiki Bertens will all be looking to start the summer well. 

So if you’re still nursing that Christmas food baby, starting to get over your 7th day straight of ham off the bone, or if you’re simply at ends as to how the Marsh brothers are still in the Australian cricket team, whether attending or simply watching, the Brisbane International will be the best one yet.

The Key Point 

Recent times has shown the Brisbane International can be much of a learning curve or simply a chance for most of the players to iron-out any issues or injuries as they prepare for the Australian Open in a fortnight’s time. As great as Nadal is, will the 32 year old be in peak form or will he be keeping plenty in reserve? Andy Murray returns from a massive injury lay-off and I like many would love to see him return to his best, but without any recent success, is the Brisbane International too soon? 

Elina Svitolina has made it quite clear that her exit at the Australian Open last year was hard to cope with and with that at the front of her mind, will we see the best of Elina in Brisbane? These are all the sort of questions that need to be considered when thinking about who will be holding that trophy up come the weekend. 

So who wins?

Men’s Draw

Kei Nishikori is someone who really stands out as an excellent chance to claim his maiden Brisbane International in 2019 after having been in quite a few semi-finals previously and was the runner up in 2017. Nishikori sits currently outside of the top 8 in the world and will be looking to improve on that to gain a better draw heading into the Australian Open. Although this is an impressive field, Nishikori is an excellent all-round competitor and will be looking to kick off 2019 in style. 

Recently crowned the Newcombe Medal winner, Alex De Minaur strolls into Brisbane after going the distance in the semi-finals here last year. Now currently ranked just inside the top 32, De Minaur will be looking to maintain or improve on that 2018 result so that he is seeded at the Australian Open in a fortnight’s time. Regardless of all that, Alex is a very gutsy competitor and will give it his all regardless and for that looks great value at the price. 

Women’s Draw 

Although I questioned her mindset with the Australian Open just around the corner, it would be remiss of me to ignore the talent that Svitolina possesses. Elina is an extraordinary athlete and will certainly not be taking things lightly as she looks to add to her trophy cabinet. This is an impressive field, but to put it simply, Svitolina has the edge over these ladies at the moment and she will be tough to beat. 

Former champion, Petra Kvitova can’t be ignored and returns to Brisbane having not been here since 2012. Petra is really methodical about her process and has had plenty of success in both Brisbane and Sydney leading up to the Australian Open. Currently ranked no. 7 in the world, Kvitova looks the main danger if Svitolina is to not walk away with back to back trophies.