Title-winning trio head Kooyong Classic field

Updated: 10 January 2012 13:59 IST

Three weekend title winners head the field at the Kooyong Classic, with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic all due on court in the eight-man tournament starting on Wednesday.

Title-winning trio head Kooyong Classic field

Melbourne:

Three weekend title winners head the field at the Kooyong Classic, with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic all due on court in the eight-man tournament starting on Wednesday.


Tsonga is fresh from winning the eighth title of his career after beating compatriot and fellow Kooyong competitor Gael Monfils in the final in Doha.

The Czech Republic's Berdych was part of the winning team -- along with Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova -- at the Hopman Cup mixed teams event in Perth while Canada's Raonic won his second career title at the Chennai Open.

Tsonga, ranked sixth, will be looking to fine-tune his preparations for next week's Australian Open in Kooyong and starts the exhibition tournament against Austrian Jurgen Melzer.

Others in action on Wednesday are Australian teenager Bernard Tomic, facing Berdych, American Mardy Fish against Raonic and US player Andy Roddick playing Monfils.

Tsonga, the beaten 2010 Kooyong finalist, said he was ready for the season's opening Grand Slam in Melbourne, where he lost in the final against Novak Djokovic in 2008.

"I won in Doha, I feel good," said the powerful Frenchman. "I hope I can play well here. This is such a good preparation for the Australian Open.

"Even with the top four players (Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray) all on good form, the rest have chances.

"If I thought that those guys were the only ones who could win major events, I'd stay home and watch on TV instead of playing. That's why we come out to the court."

Monfils, ranked 15th, is equally confident. "I'm all right. I had a good off-season and played great last week. I've got no worries."

Three-time former winner Roddick, 29, said: "I worked hard to get healthy and fit. I need to feel good physically to compete with the younger guys. I want to give myself every opportunity to do that this season."

The two young guns of the pack, 21-year-old Raonic and Tomic, 19, are both eager to prove themselves in their first Kooyong appearances.

Australian number one Tomic said: "There's a lot of pressure going around, but I don't worry about what's off the court. I just have fun and play my tennis. I don't worry about anything else.

"Wherever this year takes me, it takes me. I'm not thinking about the ranking," added Tomic, currently ranked 37th.

"It's one round at a time for me. It's not like when you're younger and think about how far you might go. You have to just try and beat the guy in front of you on the day," he said.

World Number four Murray, winner of the Brisbane title on Sunday and not in the official field, will play a Friday exhibition at Kooyong, taking on 2002 Wimbledon finalist David Nalbandian of Argentina.

The tournament in Kooyong, one-time home of the Australian Open, is in a promotion/relegation format, with each player guaranteed three matches over the event's four days.



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