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From 18 to 39: Young and old thrive in hectic first week of 2019 tennis season

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Germany's Julia Goerges holds the trophy after winning the singles final of the ASB Classic tennis tournament in Auckland, New Zealand, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Symes)
Goerges was among the winners (Picture: AP)

Its been a fast start to the 2019 tennis season, with no end of excitement in the first week of the year.

As players step up their preparation for the Australian Open, they have scattered far and wide in New Zealand, China, Qatar and India, as well as Australia itself, in order to get some match practice and rankings points on the board.

Tennis is often dubbed a sport for all ages and that is true to an extent in the professional game, too, which was proven this week by two singles finalists at events this week having a 21-year gap between them.

Here we take a look at the main headlines of the first week of 2019:

Nishikori ends three-year wait for ATP title

Nishikori enjoyed a great week (Picture: TPN/Getty)

Its been a long old slog for Kei Nishikori but he finally won his first tour-level title since 2016 with a 6-4 3-6 6-2 win over Russias Daniil Medvedev.

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The Japanese didnt drop a set en route to the final but had to work hard against the young Russian – who he lost to at the same stage in Tokyo last year – to end a nine-final losing streak at tour-level and win his first title since the 2016 Memphis Open.

Medvedev had enjoyed a sterling run to the final, beating Milos Raonic, Andy Murray and the returning Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to set up a meeting with the Japanese but he struggled to find his best form as he went down to the second seed.

Nishikori route to Brisbane title

R1: 7-5 6-2 Kudla
QF: 7-5 7-5 Dimitrov
SF: 6-2 6-2 Chardy
F: 6-4 4-6 6-2 Medvedev

Canadian teen sensation makes a splash

Canada's Bianca Andreescu celebrates after defeating United States' Venus Williams during the quarterfinals of the ASB Women's Classic tennis tournament in Auckland, New Zealand, Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Symes)
Andreescu enjoyed a fine week (Picture: AP)

Bianca Andreescu made a splash in Auckland as she stormed through qualifying to reach the final of the ASB Classic.

The 18-year-old produced some stunning displays with her heavy-hitting, yet crafty, style and dumped out two of the biggest names in tennis on her way to a first WTA final.

Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams were taken out by the youngster but her eighth match of the week proved a step too far.

Bianca Andreescu Auckland results

Q1: 6-2 6-0 Kucova
Q2: 7-5 6-1 Fourlis
Q3: 3-6 6-3 6-3 Siegemund
R1: 6-4 7-6 Babos
R2: 6-4 6-4 Wozniacki
QF: 6-7 6-1 6-3 Williams
SF: 6-3 6-3 Hsieh
F: 2-6 7-5 6-1 Goerges

Defending champion Julia Goerges retained her title by fighting back from a set down against the world No. 152 – who was struggling physically – to win 2-6 7-5 6-1.

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After her impressive run, Andreescu will climb to world No. 107 in the rankings and is certainly one to watch for the future.

Beaten Karlovic shows age is just a number

South African tennis player Kevin Anderson (R) poses with the trophy along with Croatioan Ivo Karlovic (L) after winning the men's single final match for the Tata Open Maharashtra ATP tennis tournament at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium in Pune on January 5, 2019. - World number six Kevin Anderson of South Africa won the battle of giants against 2.11 meters (6 feet 11 inches) tall Ivo Karlovic to clinch the Maharashtra Open title in Pune on January 5. (Photo by STR / AFP)STR/AFP/Getty Images
Karlovic was beaten by Anderson (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

At the other end of the spectrum, Pune runner-up Ivo Karlovic became the oldest ATP finalist in more than 40 years – and he was just two points away from the Maharashtra Open title!

The big-serving Croat, 39, became the oldest player since then 43-year-old Ken Rosewall in Hong Kong to reach a tour-level final.

Karlovic was defeated by Kevin Anderson, who battled back from 5-2 down in the final set tiebreak to clinch the sixth title of his career.

Karlovic run in Pune

R1: 6-4 7-5 Auger Aliassime
R2: 6-4 7-5: Donskoy
QF: 7-6 7-6 Gulbis
SF: 7-6 4-6 6-3 Darcis
F: 6-7 7-6 6-7 Anderson

Sabalenka flies out the traps in 2019

Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus poses with her trophy after winning the women's singles final match against Alison Riske of the US during the Shenzhen Open tennis tournament in Shenzhen, China's southern Guangdong province, on January 5, 2019. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUTSTR/AFP/Getty Images
A great week for the Belarusian (Picture: AFP/Getty)

Big things are expected of Belarusian hotshot Aryna Sabalenka this season and the 20-year-old got off to the perfect start in Shenzhen.

After her first title of the year, Sabalenka will climb to a career-high world No. 11 and she will fancy her chances of making her top-10 debut sooner rather than later considering she has no points to defend at the Australian Open later this month.

Sabalenka route to Shenzhen title

R1: 3-6 6-3 6-1 Maria
R2: 6-3 6-3 Alexandrova
QF: 6-1 4-2 RET Sharapova
SF: 6-2 6-1 Wang
F: 4-6 7-6 6-3 Riske

Giant killer Bautista Agut enjoys dream run

epa07263979 Roberto Bautista Agut (L) of Spain poses with the trophy after winning the ATP Qatar Open Tennis tournament final against Tomas Berdych (R) of Czech Republic at the Khalifa International Tennis Complex in Doha, Qatar, 05 January 2019. EPA/NOUSHAD THEKKAYIL
Bautista Agut enjoyed a great week (Picture: EPA)

Roberto Bautista Agut had to work mighty hard to land a first title of 2019 but enjoyed some serious scalps as he won the Qatar Open.

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The Spaniard beat Stan Wawrinka, Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych in consecutive matches to start the new season with a bang.

It was a decent week for beaten finalist Berdych, who made his injury return in Doha after a six-month absence.

Bautista Agut's Qatar Open title run

R1: 6-1 6-4 Berrettini
R2: 6-1 6-4 Garcia-Lopez
QF: 6-4 6-4 Wawrinka
SF: 3-6 7-6 6-4 Djokovic
F: 6-4 3-6 6-3 Berdych

Pliskova clinches second Brisbane title

The Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova poses with the winner's trophy following her victory over Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine in their women's singles final match at the Brisbane International tennis tournament in Brisbane on January 6, 2019. (Photo by Saeed Khan / AFP) / --IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE--SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
Pliskova lifted the title (Picture: AFP/Getty)

Czech ace Karolina Pliskova enjoyed a good start to the year as she fought back from a set down to beat Lesia Tsurenko 4-6 7-5 6-2.

Pliskova won the Brisbane International title for the first time in 2017 but looked set to suffer defeat with her Ukrainian opponent serving for the match at 5-4 in the second.

However, the former world No. 1 clawed her way back into it – with Tsurenko suffering with injury – and claimed her first title of 2019.

Pliskova Brisbane route

R1: 4-6 6-4 6-3 Putintseva
R2: 7-5 6-2 Bouzkova
QF: 6-1 1-6 6-1 Tomljanovic
SF: 6-3 6-4 Vekic
F: 4-6 7-5 6-2 Tsurenko

Switzerland win dramatic Hopman Cup final

epa07264149 Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic of Switzerland hold up the Hopman Cup after winning the mixed doubles match between Switzerland and Germany on day 8 of the Hopman Cup tennis tournament at RAC Arena in Perth, Australia, 05 January 2019. EPA/TONY MCDONOUGH AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Federer and Bencic won the title (Picture: EPA)

Switzerland defended the Hopman Cup title – in what may prove to be the final edition of the mixed-focused event.

Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic defeated Alexander Zverev and Angelique Kerber in a dramatic final, with a tense mixed doubles encounter rounding off the event.

In fact, it all came down to the final point with an 18-shot rally in a winner-takes-all point resulting in the Swiss lifting the title.

Injury woes galore

Konta suffered with a neck issue (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

Its not all been smiles and joy in the first week of the season, with some of the games biggest stars suffering with injury.

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Rafael Nadal was forced to withdraw from the Brisbane International with a thigh problem as Maria Sharapova retired from Shenzhen with a similar issue, while Andy Murray went out with a whimper against eventual runner-up Medvedev in Brisbane, complaining of ongoing hip pain.

British injury concerns ahead of the Australian Open continued to grow with Kyle Edmund withdrawing from the Sydney International with a knee issue, while Johanna Konta was forced to retire when 4-1 down in qualifying at the same event citing a neck problem.

More: Tennis

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