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Desert champion Nadal could continue to star

Nadal needs to win matches

Rafael Nadal has started the season in the best possible fashion
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ATP Brisbane International
Rafael Nadal made a positive start to the season with victory in Abu Dhabi on Saturday and it may be worth taking a chance that the Spaniard picks up in Brisbane where he left off in the United Arab Emirates.

With Nadal it’s all about needing to win plenty of matches and while that didn’t happen last year, things could work out better for him this season.

It’s an open heat in Brisbane with many of the luminaries having oppor­tunities. Nadal will have to toil from the off against Alexandr Dolgopolov, but if he survives that outing and franks the form of his Mubadala World Champion­ship semi-final victory over Milos Raonic, then the rest may have to look out.

Outsiders Kyle Edmund and Jordan Thompson could go well, but Thompson is due to try to qualify for Sydney later this week.

Recommendation
R Nadal
1pt 4-1 bet365, Paddy Power, Sky Bet

WTA Brisbane International
Angelique Kerber starts her first season at the top of the pile and there is good reason to believe the German could be difficult to knock off her perch.

She possesses plenty of self-belief and her game is getting stronger all the time.

Garbine Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova are two rivals who could trouble Kerber more than most, but the top seed is now a more reliable betting propo­sition than Pliskova and maybe even Muguruza.

Not that Kerber, who has a first-round bye, has things easy on the Gold Coast. Aussie wild-card Ashleigh Barty posted some decent displays last season and could be a threat, while Elina Svitolina or Eugenie Bouchard may prove tough in the last eight.

But at 3-1 the chance can be taken on Kerber, who could face harder tasks in the coming weeks.

Recommendation
A Kerber
1pt 3-1 Coral

ATP & WTA Brisbane International
Venue Queensland Tennis Centre, Tennyson, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Prize money – men $495,630 ($77,980 to winner) women $1,000,000 ($191,418 to winner)
Category – men 250 ranking points to winner women Premier (470 ranking points to winner)
Surface Outdoor Plexicushion hard courts
Ball Wilson Australian Open
When to bet – men starts at 1am tonight women starts at 2am today
Where to watch Daily live WTA coverage on BT Sport from 1am tonight
Weather forecast Rainy from Tuesday until Saturday. High temperature 33C
Time difference Ten hours ahead of the UK and Ireland


 

WTA Shenzhen Open
Defending champion and top seed Agnieszka Radwanska is likely to be tough to topple in Shenzhen this week but one player who could depose the trophy-holder is Johanna Konta.

The world number ten is going the right way and will have been buoyed by the attention that the sport of tennis has been getting in Britain thanks to Andy Murray.

Konta is the chief British hope on the WTA Tour these days and considering the draw she has been handed in south-east China, she has a decent chance of setting out her stall for the coming campaign this week.

Unless Kristyna Pliskova, who is making progress, has made huge strides in the off-season, there looks nobody to stop Konta making the semis and even second seed Simona Halep, who the selection beat in Wuhan in 2015, may not be safe.

Recommendation
J Konta
1pt each-way 13-2 Betfred

WTA Shenzhen Open
Venue Longgang Tennis Centre, Shenzhen, China
Prize money $750,000 ($163,260 to winner)
Category International (280 ranking points to winner)
Surface Outdoor Plexipave hard courts
Ball Wilson Australian Open
When to bet Main draw starts at 3am today
Weather forecast Dry week, but cloudier from Wednesday. High temperature 27C
Time difference Eight hours ahead of the UK and Ireland


 

WTA Auckland Classic
Serena Williams, who recently announced her engagement to Reddit joint-founder Alexis Ohanian, joins elder sister Venus Williams in New Zealand’s premier tourna­ment and while world number two Serena has clearly been busy in life of late, that may not prevent her from making a fine start to the season.

Serena is in the easier half of the draw in Auckland, having avoided Venus, good pal Caroline Wozniacki, Anastasia Pavlyu­chenkova, Ana Konjuh and Naomi Osaka and her toughest match before the final could come against Barbora Strycova or Lucie Safarova.

But the market leader will be still be a short price to account for either Czech should she play one and 8-11 looks a perfectly acceptable price about the best female player in the sport’s history.

Recommendation
S Williams
2pts 8-11 general

WTA ASB Classic
Venue ASB Tennis Arena, Parnell, Auckland, New Zealand
Prize money $250,000 ($43,000 to winner)
Category International (280 ranking points to winner)
Surface Outdoor Plexicushion hard courts
Ball Wilson Australian Open
When to bet Main draw starts 11pm today
Weather forecast Chance of showers from tomorrow until Wednesday. Drier from Thursday. High temp 24C
Time difference 13 hours ahead of the UK and Ireland

Nadal will have to toil from the off against Alexandr Dolgopolov, but if he survives that outing and franks the form of his victory over Milos Raonic, then the rest may have to look out
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