With the 2013 Australian Open just weeks away, the world's top tennis players on both the men's and women's sides are gearing up for a brand new year, which will begin in Brisbane, Australia for many.
The 2013 Brisbane International is an annual tournament held just before the much-anticipated Aussie Open and has produced a list of past champions including Andy Murray, Andy Roddick, Novak Djokovic, Victoria Azarenka and Kim Clijsters, among others.
Here we'll get you set with everything you need to know for the 2013 Brisbane International.
Where: Queensland Tennis Centre, Brisbane, Australia
When: Sunday, December 30, 2012 through Sunday, January 6, 2013
Watch: Tennis Channel
Live Streaming: TennisTV.com
Top Men's Contenders
Without question, the overwhelming favorite on the men's side has got to be 2012 Brisbane champion Andy Murray. Not only did the Scotsman cruise to the Brisbane men's final and eventually a straight-set win over Alexandr Dolgopolov in 2012, but he won the most recent Grand Slam tournament, the 2012 U.S. Open.
The 25-year-old has had a huge burden lifted from his shoulders, and he can now focus on elevating his game one tournament at a time in 2013 instead of investing all of his time and energy into winning a Slam.
The big Canadian enters Brisbane as the No. 2 seed in the men's draw and wouldn't have to face Andy Murray until the final, which makes him the next top contender in my eyes.
But don't get me wrong, Raonic's game is nothing to sneeze at. Plus, he's only 22 years old.
Raonic played several back-and-forth matches with Murray on tour last year, losing to him in the fourth round of the U.S. Open but bouncing back in the semifinals of the Rakuten Open in Japan. In the end, Raonic finished 2-3 in five matches (including a walkover loss) against Murray in 2012.
Click here to view the entire men's draw.
Top Women's Contenders
Reigning Australian Open women's champion, Victoria Azarenka finished as the runner-up in this tournament in 2008 but won it all in 2009. She hasn't been back to the final since.
Still, the 23-year-old's impressive display a year ago at the Aussie Open caught the eye of many, especially after she dominated Maria Sharapova in a straight-set victory in the tournament final. Sharapova won just three games in the entire match.
Azarenka is a force on hard courts. Look for her to reaffirm that in Brisbane.
There's no tennis player hotter right now than Serena Williams. The 31-year-old has won the last two Grand Slams on the women's side and looks to be locked in. No, Williams hasn't won at Brisbane before—or even reached the final—but her powerful serve should distance her from the pack on the hard courts of Australia.
Although she is only the No. 3 seed in the women's draw behind Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, who wouldn't bet on Serena against either player?
A five-time Australian Open champion, Williams is certainly a threat to win this January.
Click here to view the entire women's draw.
2013 Brisbane International TV Schedule (courtesy of TennisChannel.com)
|Date||Match||Start Time (ET)||Channel|
|Wednesday, Jan. 2||
|Thursday, Jan. 3||Women's Quarterfinal*||9 p.m.||Tennis Channel|
|Friday, Jan. 4||
Women's Semifinal No. 1
Women's Semifinal No. 2
|Saturday, Jan. 5||
Men's Semifinal No. 1*
Men's Semifinal No. 2*
|Sunday, Jan. 6||Men's Final*||2 p.m.||Tennis Channel|
For more on the 2013 Brisbane International, visit the tournament official website at BrisbaneInternational.com.au. And you can follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.