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Sunday, 21 October, 2018

Jury still out over Andy Murray following his brief UAE spin

Jordan Thompson could repeat Queen's Club win

Andy Murray is in action in Brisbane
1 of 1

Week one tournaments

ATP Brisbane International
starts 6am Sunday

Some observers found positives in the fact that Andy Murray flew to Bris­bane immediately after playing just one set in his Mubadala exhibition event semi-final in Abu Dhabi, but while the Scot could step it up in Queens­land the jury's still out for now.

Murray, who starts the season ranked 16th in the ATP chart, is seeded second in Brisbane so gets a first-round bye. In his first outing of 2018 he faces a winnable task against Ryan Harrison or Leonardo Mayer.

It could get tougher for the British number one in the quarter-finals, however. Murray could run into Australian wild-card Jordan Thompson, who upset the Scot at the Queen's Club last summer.

Thompson is a capable sort with potential to climb higher in the rankings and he can be chanced each-way at big prices.

Grigor Dimitrov, victorious in the ATP World Tour Finals in London in November, is the top seed. He could go well in his title defence – he beat Dominic Thiem, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori on the way to triumphing in Brisbane a year ago – but is priced a little short for a repeat.

Recommendation
J Thompson
1pt each-way 50-1 bet365, Sky Bet


More tennis

2018 season preview


WTA Brisbane International
starts 2am Sunday

Johanna Konta, who starts the new year ranked ninth in the world, is seeded fifth in Brisbane, but with the vast majority of WTA stars out in force this week punters should keep an open mind about their outright betting.

Konta starts with a match against US Open finalist Madison Keys, the highest-ranked non-seed competing on the WTA Tour in week one, and it's difficult to have a strong opinion about who will emerge victorious in that one.

Garbine Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina are the top seeds in Queensland, but there may be better value in backing Ashleigh Barty or Petra Kvitova to start with a bang.

The exciting Barty looks likely to climb higher than her current ranking of 17th, but with Kvitova having been happy with her fitness programme this winter it could be worth chancing the Czech to bounce the seeds.

Recommendation
P Kvitova
1pt 14-1 Betfair, Paddy Power


WTA Shenzhen Open
starts 4am Sunday

World number one Simona Halep, an impressive winner in Shenzhen three years ago, and French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko are the big names in action in southern China, but there is enough talent in the line-up to take on the top seeds.

Aryna Sabalenka, Ekaterina Alexandrova and Zarina Diyas could all go well, but the presence of the unseeded Maria Sharapova catches the eye.

The Russian, who did not drop a set on the way to taking the Tianjin title in October, faces a potentially tough opener against Mihaela Buzarnescu but it's a clash Sharapova can win.

Defending champion Katerina Siniakova could again go well, but Ostapenko is no certainty to deny slow-burner Kristyna Plisk­ova in her curtain-raiser.

Recommendation
M Sharapova
1pt 5-1 Betfair, Paddy Power


WTA ASB Classic
starts 11pm Sunday

Auckland top seeds Caroline Wozniacki, WTA Finals Singapore heroine in October, and Julia Goerges have reached New Zealand finals in recent years and both could shine again.

Donna Vekic trails Kirsten Flipkens, her first-round oppo­nent, 4-0 in their personal series but the Croat could be a threat if denying the Belgian.

Recommendation
D Vekic
1pt 28-1 general


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Thompson is a capable sort with potential to climb higher in the rankings and he can be chanced each-way at big prices
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