Andy Murray aims to kick-start his stalled tennis career in Brisbane this week after an injury-plagued 2018, with Spanish great Rafael Nadal also playing as he tests his troubled knee ahead of the Australian Open.
The season-opening tournament boasts a stellar field with Kei Nishikori and Grigor Dimitrov also in contention as they prepare for the first Grand Slam of the year at Melbourne Park.
It also marks the return of temperamental Nick Kyrgios, the defending champion who has been talking to psychologists and “trying to get on top” of his mental health after another roller-coaster year.
His preparations took a blow when he was bitten by spider over Christmas, which needed medical attention, but he is expected to be ready.
The women’s field includes seven of the world’s top 10 – defending champion Elina Svitolina, US Open winner Naomi Osaka, Sloane Stephens, Petra Kvitova, Karolina Pliskova, Kiki Bertens, and Daria Kasatkina.
Three-time Grand Slam winner Murray only played six tournaments last season and arrived in Australia early to acclimatise and prepare as he continues his recovery from hip surgery.
The Scot, who won the Brisbane title in 2012 and 2013, said he had been training hard to work himself back to the sort of fitness levels that saw him capture nine titles in a stellar 2016 campaign and reach the number one ranking.
“There are still things that I want to achieve,” he said. “Whether I am capable of that I don’t really know.”
The 31-year-old had intended to play Brisbane at the beginning of 2018, but was forced to withdraw on the eve of the tournament and pull out of the Australian Open with the hip problem.
He said he still had some pain, but “I’m in a better place than I was a few months ago”.
source: the herald