British trio James Ward, Dan Evans and Brydan Klein will begin attempts to reach the Australian Open main draw on Wednesday (13 January) after learning their opponents for the opening round of qualifying in Melbourne. Davis Cup winner Ward will face Canada's Peter Polansky while Evans will take on number one seed Luca Vanni.
Meanwhile, Aussie-born Klein – who switched his international allegiance in 2013 – will look to reach the men's draw of the opening grand slam of the season for the first time while representing Great Britain, starting his campaign against Peter Gojowczyk . The former junior champion in his country of birth lost to Andreas Seppi on his Grand Slam debut for GB at Wimbledon in 2015.
Ward has extra incentive to reach the main draw following the death of his coach Darren Tandy from cancer on Christmas Eve. The 28-year-old suffered a significant dip in form having learned the Australian had the condition, slipping to world number 156, but is now hoping to stage a resurgence.
"I knew that he was suffering a few symptoms and had experienced some discomfort but it was only when we got to Flushing Meadows that the extent of things became clear," he said, according to the Evening Standard. "The whole thing was a real shock and something that was very distracting and worrying. Darren and his family wanted to keep the matter private but at the same time people kept asking why I was losing all the time."
Each player must win three matches to progress as one of 16 qualifiers for the main draw, which already includes British duo Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund, who has risen to a career-best ranking of 88 after his run to the Qatar Open quarter-finals. The women's qualifying draw, which will include world number 112 Naomi Broady, will be made later in the week.
Meanwhile, Murray has revealed he will warm up for a tilt at a second Wimbledon title by pursuing a record fifth success at the Aegon Championships at Queen's Club in June. Victory over Kevin Anderson saw the Scot go level with seven players – including John McEnroe and Boris Becker – with four singles crowns and will bid to eclipse the illustrious group in the traditional curtain-raiser to the grass court season.
"If I could win it a fifth time it would be amazing," said Murray, who lifted the famous trophy in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015. "The names that have won it four times – they are all great tennis players.
"I've played some of my best tennis at The Queen's Club over the years. Maybe it's because I enjoy the tournament – it's a great event. One of the nice things is that it's at a club, which you don't get that much on the tour."