Speculation has been swirling since before Christmas that Andy might not be ready to return to competitive tennis after a six month break from the tour following a chronic exacerbation of a long term hip issue, which flared up after his tough semi-final against Stan Wawrinka at Roland Garros in June 2017.
After playing an exhibition practice set at the Mubadula World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi to fill in for Novak Djokovic - who withdrew with his own long term injury concerns - question marks continued to puncuate the articles written about his progress, but he left Abu Dhabi swiftly after the exhibition was over and boarded the last flight of the day to Brisbane.
The Brisbane International has been Andy's targeted return tournament for some months; his appearance there is part of a three year deal with Tennis Australia for him to begin the season at either Brisbane or the Hopman Cup over that time. Andy won back-to-back titles at Brisbane in 2012 and 2013, and has performed well in Melbourne each time he has begun the season in Australia. Whether he is physically fit and healthy enough to do so again this year remains to be seen.
Following the withdrawal of world number one, Rafa Nadal, Andy will be seeded second and will have a first round bye, and will not play his first match before 3rd January. Other British players starting the season in Brisbane will be Kyle Edmund and Jo Konta, with Heather Watson already having started in qualies.
If he decides to go ahead and play the tournament, Andy's projected first match will be against the winner of Ryan Harrison vs Leonardo Mayer.