Bernard Tomic’s path back to the Australian Open has led him to Doha, where he will be among 11 Australian men attempting to qualify for their home grand slam.
The former world No.17 will learn his first-round opponent later on Saturday night (AEDT), with play starting on Sunday in what will be the COVID-19-impacted tournament’s first off-shore qualifying event.
Nine Australian women, including Ellen Perez and the returning Kimberly Birrell, will feature in the equivalent event in Dubai.
Now ranked world No.228, Tomic played just nine matches on the ATP Tour last year and was forced out of Brisbane’s UTR Pro Tennis Series with a back injury last month.
The Gold Coast-based Tomic has flown to Doha seeking a ticket to the main draw at Melbourne Park, where he has an impressive 17-10 career record and three fourth-round appearances to his name.
But the former Wimbledon quarter-finalist has not reached the third round of a major since 2017, and will need to win three sudden-death matches to progress.
The 16 qualifiers plus a further six alternates will undertake 14 days of mandatory quarantine with other main draw players upon their return to Australia.
Former top-20 talents Andreas Seppi, Tommy Robredo and Ivo Karlovic will attempt to qualify while West Australian veteran Matt Ebden, Sydney teenager Rinky Hijikata and Queenslanders Jason Kubler and Akira Santillan are among the other local hopes.