Where: Sydney, Australia
Tournament level: 250
Notable entries (w/rankings): John Isner (14), Gilles Simon (16) [Note: Simon withdrew with neck pain prior to tournament start], Andreas Seppi (23), Fernando Verdasco (24), Bernard Tomic (43), Grigor Dimitrov (48), Ryan Harrison (62), Roberto Bautista-Agut (80)
Results: In the battle of the unseeded, Bernard Tomic took out the big serving South African Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-3, for his first career ATP title.
Good showings: Obviously, the big winner this week was Australia's own Bernard Tomic. The 20-year-old won his first ever title on tour, jumped 21 spots in the ranking from 64 to 43, and did it just before the commencement of the Australian Open.
It was really the perfect thing that Tomic and the Australian fans needed to pump them up for the first major (as if they ever need any help). It certainly wasn't an easy road for Tomic either. En route to the title he had to battle past seeded German Florian Mayer, the Fin and former-top 15 Jarkko Nieminen, Italy's top man Andreas Seppi, and a huge serving Kevin Anderson.
How about the 6-foot-8 runner-up Kevin Anderson? Solid tournament for the big guy from South Africa. Anderson, a difficult player to face due to his massive serving game, can build on the result moving forward. With a world ranking of 36, Anderson just missed being a seed in the Australian Open. He is now sitting at No. 31 in the world, and could be a dangerous floater in the main draw.
Denis Istomin had another solid tournament, and picked up a big win over fourth-seed Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-3, before falling to runner-up Kevin Anderson. Istomin, 26, made the quarters last week in Brisbane losing to Andy Murray, but not before taking out a seeded Martin Klizan.
Good, solid performance from Italy's No. 1 Andreas Seppi. Seppi made the semis with a solid win over Spaniard Marcel Granollers, and played a very tight and entertaining 6-7(10), 4-6, match against would-be-champion Tomic.
Seppi served an impressive 76 percent on the match and was winning 86 percent of his first-serve points. He faced just a single break point all match. Ironically, it was the only one Tomic needed. His return let him down however as he converted none of his six break point opportunities.
Disappointing: Top-seed John Isner went crashing out of the tournament in his first match, and it was at the hands of American compatriot Ryan Harrison. In typical John Isner fashion, the big man served closed to 70 percent on the match, and was winning 75 percent of his first serve points. But surprisingly, he could not hold off the scrappy return game of Harrison, who went 3-for-3 on break points. Isner won just 25 percent of his return points as opposed to Harrison who won 34 percent.
For the second tournament in a row, the seeded Frenchman Jeremy Chardy was sent crashing out in the first round. Last week in Doha, it was at the hands of German Daniel Brands, and this week it was Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.
World No. 24 Fernando Verdasco was handily dismissed in his first match by Uzbek Denis Istomin 3-6, 3-6. Verdasco was winning just 57 percent of his service points, and never had a break point on Istomin's serve. Istomin has now won the last two meetings against the upper-seeded Verdasco (2012 Olympics, Sydney 2013).