On the men's side most of the big names have opted out of any tournaments to rest before the Australian Open - which would be two tough weeks for many of the big names. But at Medibank International we have Juan Martin Del Potro in the draw. I was distraught when Del Potro injured himself at the height of his career, he was truly capable of making the Top 4 the Top 5 and potentially denying Nadal of some of his titles last year, hopefully a new year will mean he is back revitalised as his return last year wasn't the fairytale we had hoped for. Del Potro won't have it easy though with Feliciano Lopez his first opponent. Whilst Lopez only managed the 2nd Round last week he could still pull off an upset. Then there's Baghdatis in the QFs and potentially Victor Troicki in the SFs who was only stopped by Federer last week. Last years finalists Richard Gasquet will also be in the draw but last week he crashed out to Bjorn Phau so I'm not convinced he'll take his quarter over Troicki. Radek Stepanek made a good run to the SFs last week so both Gasquet and Troicki need to watch out for him. Ernests Gulbis will be a favourite for this title but Guillermo Garcia-Lopez could stand in his way, he played quite well last week. Of course you can't discount the No.1 seed Sam Querrey, though he did have a disastrous end to last year.
A trio of past champions will grace the Heineken Open namely David Ferrer (07), John Isner (10) and Philipp Kohlschreiber (08). Nicolas Almgaro, the 2nd seed, will have Xavier Malisse and Kevin Anderson in his draw - both played well last week. Juan Monaco is also in that section of the draw. I don't know what happened to Tommy Robredo last year but you've got to give him some consideration. Ferrer will undeniably be the favourite for this title but I can equally see any of the top 8 seeds, and then some, winning the title.
The women's however have come out in force. If it weren't for the Williams and weirdly enough Elena Dementieva still being in the rankings, this week all the Top 10 would be gracing the Medibank International Tournament. With such force anybody could win the title, not only the Top players. Close threats to Wozniacki will be Cibulkova, Schiavone, Kirilenko and Hantuchova. Luckily for Wozniacki Kirilenko and Cibulkova will KO each other. Kim Clijsters looks to only have Azarenka to contend with, hopefully Azarenka is back to full force here. Petrova and Peer looked out of sorts last week. The match of Round 1 will have to be Stosur Vs. Wickmayer, I think Wickmayer might win this one, then she'd have Kuznetsova to contend with, nice! Jankovic, Pennetta and Zvonareva round off the last quarter of the draw. For the title I think as long as Clijsters beats Azarenka she's got to be the favourite for the title. Last year nobody stood in the league of Clijsters when she meant business and from the looks of first round Clijsters wants to continue her form until she retires.
The Moorila Hobart International is therefore lacking a lot of big names, like always generally. Dinara Safina opted for Hobart but I bet she didn't expect to see Marion Bartoli in the first round - poor Safina first Wickmayer now Bartoli. Elena Baltacha will be flying the flag for Britain, though I don't have high hopes. There are a number of potential threats but I think the title must lie within Bartoli or Pavyluchenkova's hands, if not names like Paszek, Govortsova and Pironkova spring to mind but the former two haven't been doing that well recently I don't think.