Aces high

Andrew Murray repeated his Abu Dhabi exhibition heroics of the previous week at the official ATP Doha event on Sunday. The British No1 defended the title he made his own 12 months ago by beating Roger Federer for the second time in as many weeks before swatting aside Andy Roddick 6-4, 6-2 in the final. His assault on the world’s top three rankings was given an additional boost during the run up to Monday’s first Grand Slam event of the season, the Australian Open, when immediate rival Novak Djokovic lost in the first round in Brisbane (Radek Stepanek lifting the title) and Rafael Nadal headed out of the Qatar event against Gael Monfils.

Barring any repeat of Murray’s 2008 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga upset in Melbourne in 2008, the coming fortnight may very well see Murray claiming the first tennis ‘Major’ of his career.

In contrast, the women’s field Down Under appears to be wide open following the withdrawal of title holder Maria Sharapova- although the usual charge into the quarter-finals can be expected from the Williams sisters, the international stage is set for a new star on the tennis horizon while of the old guard Elena Dementieva boasts the best early season credentials. 

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