Tuesday, 22 November 2011


ANDY MURRAY has decided to begin his 2012 season at the Brisbane International ATP 250 event.

The world No.3 will head to Queensland for the first time to begin his preparations for the Australian Open in the joint ATP and WTA tournament which begins on January 1.

Murray had played in the ITF Hopman Cup mixed team exhibition event in Perth in the last two years with teenager Laura Robson for Great Britain, and the pair reached the final in 2010, losing narrowly to Spain.

It was regarded by Murray as perfect preparation for the first grand slam of the year, and subsequent runs to the final in Melbourne in 2011 and 2010 vindicated his decision to start the season on the west coast of Australia.

But after it was revealed last month that Murray would not be returning to Perth next year, speculation had mounted as to where the 24-year-old would begin 2012, with ATP 250 events taking place in Brisbane, Chennai and Doha in the first week of the calendar.

In his early years on tour, Murray started the season in Doha, but despite winning the event in both 2009 and 2008, the Scot felt he struggled to acclimatise to the conditions in Australia after arriving from the Middle East.

This made Brisbane the insiders’ favourite to be Murray’s first event of 2012 and his participation was confirmed today.

Murray said: “I love coming to Australia, but I’ve never had the opportunity to visit Queensland before.

“I’ve heard only good things about the Brisbane International tournament, so I am looking forward to competing in January.  With a quality field it is the perfect way to begin my Australian campaign.”

Murray will also likely have the option of playing an exhibition match at the AAMI Kooyong Classic, which is held in the suburbs of Melbourne in the days leading up to the start of the Australian Open on January 16.

Other players competing at the Brisbane International include Marcos Baghdatis, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Florian Mayer, Kei Nishikori, Gilles Simon and home-favourite Bernard Tomic.  The wild cards are still to be awarded and tournament organisers may hope they can attract world No.1 Novak Djokovic, who has not entered in Chennai or Doha.

Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer begin their season at the lucrative Mubadala World Tennis Championship – a rather grand title for an exhibition event – in Abu Dhabi from 29-31 December.

Nadal and Federer will then head to Doha for the Qatar Open, an event in which they have both competed in the past three years.

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