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Tennis big guns declare Brisbane wide open

AAP logoAAP 31/12/2016 Jim Morton

Bernard Tomic has copped a seed and Rafael Nadal is on a collision course with defending champion Milos Raonic, but leading men's contenders agree the Brisbane International is wide open.

Tomic will start his 2017 ATP campaign with a tough first-round match in his home tournament against former world No.3 David Ferrer at Pat Rafter Arena.

With five top-10 players in the strongest Brisbane men's field assembled, Tomic was always in danger of copping a difficult opening game as he narrowly missed a seeding with his No.26 ranking.

But he'll also like his chances against eighth-seeded Spaniard Ferrer, a French Open finalist in 2013, who has dropped to No.21 this year.

Tomic won their only two 2016 encounters at Shanghai and Indian Wells, and another victory would set up a likely third straight Brisbane clash with Japanese world No.5 Kei Nishikori in the quarter-finals.

The Australian won the corresponding match in three sets 12 months ago before falling to Raonic in the semi-finals.

Raonic, who upset Roger Federer in the 2016 final, is top seed this week but there's no outright favourite according to Nishikori and Austrian world No.8 Dominic Thiem, who both strongly felt it was an open tournament.

"There's too many (top) players here," third seed Nishikori said.

In fact, Canadian Raonic is highly likely to meet main drawcard Nadal, flying in late from Abu Dhabi, in what looms as a mouth-watering quarter-final clash.

With the depth of quality in the field, Thiem rated it among the strongest ATP250 tournaments of the year and also pointed to the lack of a form guage.

"It's more than one month after (everyone's) last match and nobody is 100 per cent safe," he said.

Tomic will lead a charge of three Australians at Pat Rafter Arena and can set up an all-Aussie second-round clash with wildcard Jordan Thompson, who has drawn Swede Elias Ymer in round one.

World No.9 Nadal, in his maiden Brisbane appearance, has a tricky opening encounter against popular Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov while second seed Stan Wawrinka will meet either Victor Troiki or a qualifier in the second round.

Victorian wildcard Sam Groth will play Frenchman Pierre-Hughes Herbert in the opening round where victory would match him with fourth-seeded Thiem.

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