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Australian Open: Brits in strong form heading into Melbourne

Britain's top players are all set to kickstart their runs at the first Grand Slam of the year as the Australian Open gets under way in Melbourne, taking place Monday 20 - Sunday 2 January 2020. 

Who's playing?

GB ATP Cup quarter-finalists Dan Evans and Cam Norrie face world No.132 Mackenzie McDonald and world No.64 Pierre Hugues Herbert in the first round. Also joining them in the main draw is Kyle Edmund who faces world No.27 Dusan Lajovic.

After reaching a new career-high of world No.33 on Monday, Evans is entering a Grand Slam with his first ever seeding as the No.30 seed. He also comes in fresh from a run to final-eight in Adelaide. Should Evans reach the third for a second time, he could potentially face seven-time champion Novak Djokovic.

Ranked just two spots higher than his first round opponent, Norrie is bidding to reach the second round in Melbourne for the first time, whilst 2018 semi-finalist Edmund will be looking to build on his recent run in Auckland which saw him reach the quarter-finals. 

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Quarter Finals bound! #aucklandopen #nike #quarterfinals

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British No.1 Johanna Konta enters as No.12 seed after an impressive 2019 season saw her reach three Grand Slam quarter-finals. She will take on Ons Jabeur for a place in the second round and could meet Serena Williams in a final-16 clash. 

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Good vibes 🙌👋😁

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British No.2 Heather Watson will be looking to build on her stunning form at the Hobart International, where she defeated top seed Elise Mertens.

She will take on Kristyna Pliskova in the first round in Melbourne. 

Katie Boulter will be making her Grand Slam comeback after taking time out to recover from an injury she picked up following her stunning Fed Cup performance which saw the Brits reach the World Group for the first time in over a quarter of a century. She faces a tough first round opponent in the form of No.5 seed Elina Svitolina. 

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👋🏼 @australianopen

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Harriet Dart became the fourth British woman to reach the first round after producing a dominant display in her final qualifying match, beating Giulia Gatto-Monticone 6-1, 6-3. She will find out her opponent once qualifying is completed.

For full draws and schedules, head to the tournament's official website

Meanwhile in doubles...

2016 Australian Open men's doubles champion Jamie Murray and Neal Skupksi are bidding to win their first Grand Slam title together after starting a solid partnership in summer last year. They come in a strong contenders after a deep run in Adelaide.

Fellow Adelaide semi-finalist Joe Salisbury with his American partner Rajeev Ram also pose a threat to competitors. Like Murray and Skupski, they are looking to claim their first Grand Slam title together and will be looking to follow on from their brilliant 2019 season which saw them reach the Nitto ATP Finals. 

Dom Inglot, Jonny O'Mara and Luke Bambridge will also be in action.  

What about wheelchair tennis?

Alfie Hewett, Gordon Reid, Jordanne Whiley and Andy Lapthorne take Brit hopes into the wheelchair singles and doubles events, with all four no strangers to Grand Slam success.

It’s been four years since Reid won his first career Grand Slam singles title in Australia before going on to triumph later the same season at Wimbledon and the Rio Paralympic Games. While he will hope to begin this current Paralympic year in similarly impressive form, Reid and Hewett have now won the men’s singles title at all four Grand Slams between them. Current British No.1 Hewett will aim to make it back-to-back Grand Slam crowns after winning his second successive US Open title in September, while the combination of Hewett and Reid will bid to add the Australian Open men’s doubles title to the three US Open and three Wimbledon crowns they have already won.

Lapthorne will also go in search of back-to-back Grand Slam quad singles and doubles victories after lifting both trophies at the US Open in September. Lapthorne is already a five-time Australian Open quad doubles champion and will be hoping to capture his sixth personal doubles title in Melbourne and what could be his fourth partnering the USA’s David Wagner.

Whiley returns to the first major of the year for the first time since 2016 after earning her first direct acceptance for a Grand Slam since launching her comeback from maternity leave last February. Whiley’s best Australian Open singles result to date was a semi-final berth in 2014, the same year that she won the first of two successive Australian Open doubles titles partnering Japan’s Yui Kamiji.

What happened last year?

Andy Murray once again had us all on the edge of our seats as he found himself in a five-set thriller against Roberto Bautista Agut. Whilst it was the Spaniard who eventually got the win, the former British world No.1 showed there was still plenty more to give, despite opening up about potential retirement just a few days before.  

I don’t know, maybe I’ll see you again, I’ll do everything possible to try.

True to his word, he underwent a second hip operation and made a winning return at the Fever-Tree Championships just six months later when he teamed up with Spain’s Feliciano Lopez to lift the doubles title. Then, just three months later, he cemented his place in the singles circuit once more with an inspirational run in Antwerp, concluding with victory over three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka in the final.

Five-time finalist Murray had to withdraw from this year’s Australian Open due to a pelvic injury, but will be eyeing up a return in 2021 for another shot at winning the title.

In the women’s draw, Katie Boulter scored her first main draw win Down Under with an impressive 6-0, 4-6, 7-6(6) win over Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova.

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Well that was intense 😳 first main draw AO win 🤷🏼‍♀💪🏼 #AusOpen

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ATP Cup: Brits fall to Australia in quarter-final thriller

Great Britain's brilliant ATP Cup run was brought to an end in the early hours of Friday morning as Australia seized an edge-of-your-seat 2-1 quarter-final victory. 

Cam Norrie faced Nick Kyrgios in the opening rubber which went to the host nation as the Australian world No.29 maintained his impressive form to capture a 6-2, 6-2 win. 

It was then up to Dan Evans to level the tie to keep Great Britain's semi-final hopes alive. With two wins under his belt after defeating Belgium's world No.11 David Goffin and Moldova's world No.46 Radu Albot, he had momentum on his side as he returned to Ken Rosewall Arena to face world No.18 Alex De Minaur. 

The pair, who have met just once before on Tour, treated fans to an epic contest in what went on to be the longest match of the ATP Cup so far. After three hours and 24 minutes of phenomenal play, the British No.1 converted his fifth match point to clinch a 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(2) win. 

Britain's fate fell in the hands of Joe Salisbury and Jamie Murray in the decisive doubles up against Kyrgios and De Minaur. The Brits started strong and took the opening set 6-3, but the Aussies showed their grit and fought back to take the second 6-3.

In a deciding championship tie-break that Kyrgios described as 'the most stressful I've ever played in my life', the host nation was the side to prevail as they saved four match points before going on to win the marathon 3-6, 6-3, [18-16]. 

The Brits will now turn their focus on the Australian Open, where they'll bid to further the impressive starts they've made to their 2020 seasons.

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ATP Cup: Brits sail past Moldova to reach quarter-finals

Great Britain have qualified for the ATP Cup quarter-finals following a flawless 3-0 win in their third and final group stage tie in Sydney. 

The Brits faced Moldova on Monday evening and headed into the tie knowing they must score a 3-0 victory if they were to keep their ATP Cup hopes alive. 

They remained focussed to the task at hand and passed with flying colours by capturing a hat-trick of 6-2, 6-2 victories. 

Cam Norrie was up first and redeemed his loss on Saturday night against Belgium's Steve Darcis with an impressive 71-minute win over world No.816 Alexander Cozbinov.

Dan Evans followed and sailed past world No.46 Radu Albot, a player ranked just four spots lower than him.  

Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury then sealed the tie with a straightforward win over Albot and Cozbinov. 

By winning the tie 3-0, Tim Henman's squad had done everything they could do to qualify for the knockouts, but their fate lay in the hands of Belgium and Bulgaria's tie. If Belgium won 2-1, the Brits would automatically finish top of their group and qualify for the knockouts.

With Bulgaria's Dimitar Kuzmanov causing an upset over Belgium's Darcis, but Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov falling to Belgium's David Goffin, all eyes were on the decisive doubles rubber which was clinched by the Belgian side, sending Great Britain into the quarter-finals. 

The Brits will take on Group F winners and host nation Australia, 10:00 local time on Thursday 9 (23:00 GMT - Wednesday evening). 

The ATP Cup is a new tournament which sees 24 nations split into six groups of four playing across three cities (Sydney, Perth and Brisbane).The winners of each of the six groups, along with the next two top teams advance to the knockouts in Sydney. 

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Keep up-to-date with all the latest news about the GB ATP Cup Team by following LTA on TwitterFacebook and Instagram, and signing up to LTA's free newsletter.  All GB matches are live on Amazon Prime.  

ATP Cup: Brits keep Sydney dream alive

In their must-win tie against Belgium, the Brits brilliantly fought to a 2-1 victory to keep their ATP Cup dreams alive.

The team's tough 2-1 loss to Bulgaria in the early hours of Saturday morning meant they had to win their second group stage tie to give themselves a chance of qualifying for the knockouts.

Hot on the heels of battling past Bulgaria's Dimitar Kuzmanov, British No.2 Cam Norrie returned to Ken Rosewall Arena at Sydney Olympic Park on Sunday evening to kickstart GB's tie. He faced Steve Darcis who showed his experience and put on an inspired performance to defeat Britain's world No.53 6-3, 6-4. 

Norrie's loss put the pressure on British No.1 Dan Evans, who fell in three sets to world No.20 Grigor Dimitrov late on Friday night. This time round, he faced world No.11 David Goffin and delivered his best game to capture a stunning 6-4, 6-4 victory. 

It was then up to Joe Salisbury and Jamie Murray as they took on Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen in the decisive doubles clash. The pair, who suffered a tight defeat to Bulgaria after holding two match points, returned to court with conviction and delighted GB ATP Cup Captain Tim Henman, along with the rest of the team bench and cheering fans with an epic masterclass to clinch a 6-3, 7-6 (7) win. 

The ATP Cup is a new tournament which sees 24 nations split into six groups of four playing across three cities (Sydney, Perth and Brisbane). Great Britain have been placed in Group C with Bulgaria, Belgium and Moldova.

The Brits will play their final round-robin tie on Tuesday 7, 10:00 local time (23:00 GMT - Monday evening). The winner of each of the six groups, plus the two next best teams, will advance to the quarter-finals. 

Back the Brits! 

Keep up-to-date with all the latest news about the GB ATP Cup Team by following LTA on TwitterFacebook and Instagram, and signing up to LTA's free newsletter.  All GB matches are live on Amazon Prime.  

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