German veteran Tommy Haas has rejected concerns Andy Murray will claim the Roy Emerson Trophy in a Brisbane International cakewalk.
World number four Murray is an overwhelming favourite to take the ATP title in Brisbane with the field nowhere near as strong as the WTA event which has eight players ranked in the top 20, including four former world number ones.
While top seed Samantha Stosur is one of five grand slam women's champions competing, world number 44 Marcos Baghdatis is the only man beside Murray to make a grand slam final, way back in 2006 when he lost the Australian Open to Roger Federer.
Frenchman Gilles Simon (ranked 12th) is the second seed, ahead of Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov (15), while local hope Bernard Tomic's world ranking of 42 has earned him the eighth seeding.
Defending champion Robin Soderling has not returned to Brisbane, nor last year's runner-up and 2010 winner Andy Roddick, leaving Murray the stand-out headliner.
But wily Czech Radek Stepanek, who took out the inaugural 2009 tournament and has an overall Brisbane record of 12-2, could be the Scots' biggest danger despite his number 28 ranking.
Former world numbet two Haas, slowly returning from hip and elbow surgery in 2010, insisted there is enough quality in the draw plus enough mystery following the off-season break to ensure Murray will not have it easy at Pat Rafter Arena.
"It's the beginning of the year and it's really about the person who put a lot of work in December and is fit and is coming here eagerly to win," the German said.
"You've got guys like Baghdatis who are very dangerous.
"So you never know. (But) obviously Andy is going to be the favourite."
Haas, who won silver at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, predicted an "interesting" Australian Open and felt Murray was close to breaking the stranglehold of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
"Andy is such a talented player, he's in great physical shape and he reads the game as well as anybody who ever played the game," the 34-year-old said.
"This could be his breakthrough year.
"You feel like he has a chance in every single (grand slam tournament)."
AAPTags: sport, tennis, australia, qld, brisbane-4000 First posted December 31, 2011 09:32:26