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Australian Open

In-form Gael Monfils expects ‘very tough’ Australian Open despite Andy Murray’s absence

The 31-year-old enters the year’s first grand slam unseeded but confident after winning the Qatar Open

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 January, 2018, 1:06pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 January, 2018, 8:50pm

Gael Monfils said he expected a tough Australian Open despite claiming his first title of the season on Saturday after he won the Qatar Open by beating Andrey Rublev.

Monfils, returning to action after a knee injury which brought a premature end to last season, said he would still be unseeded in Melbourne and expected a tough draw.

“Australia is definitely something else,” said the 31-year-old. “It’s a slam. I know it’s going to be tough because I won’t be seeded.”

“It’s been a while since I played without being seeded. It’s always an advantage in a slam. It’s going to be interesting to see the draw, where I will be. I know I can have a very tough first round.”

He may, in fact, still have a slim chance of being seeded in Australia, depending on injuries to top players as well as his move up the rankings following his 6-2, 6-3 win in Qatar.

Going into Doha, Monfils was ranked 46th in the world. With the new rankings out next week, he is expected to rise to 39, still seven places outside the seedings.

However, injuries to big names such as Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori have already ensured players outside the top 32 will be seeded, including Rublev, and more dropouts would help Monfils.

Rublev is currently the world number 39 but his ranking will rise to at least 33 after Doha.

Injuries to others mean he is assured of a seeding in Melbourne for the season’s first grand slam, which starts on January 15.

Andy Murray pulls out of Australian Open with hip injury

Asked about his chances in Australia, Rublev, 20, said he was “more confident” after his showing in Doha.

“I’m happy to be seeded and, of course, I feel a little bit more confident,” he said. “But we’ll see what happens. You never know who you are going to play and there’s many guys that are not seeded but they are really, really tough to beat.”