Bendigo, VIC, 5 January 2020 | Asher Packman

With the Apis Canberra International now set to begin in Bendigo on Monday, local hope Marc Polmans said his thoughts are firmly with those impacted by the ongoing bushfires.

“Moving the event to Bendigo is in everyone’s best interests,” he added. “And for me, it’s actually closer to home.”

Coming into the ATP Challenger unseeded, but sitting just two places shy of a career-high world No.132 after a strong finish to 2019, Polmans is confident about what lies ahead over the Australian summer of tennis.

“I’ve had a solid five weeks of pre-season in Melbourne. I’m mentally refreshed and I’m happy with how I’m hitting it,” he said. “I’m not putting too much pressure on myself, but I definitely want to keep aiming for the top 100. It would be awesome if I could crack it this year.”

Polmans meets a qualifier in the first round, with a potential first-time match-up with American No.9 seed Marcos Giron, should he progress.

The 22-year-old is joined by seven other Australian men in the main draw with Harry Bourchier and Rinky Hijikata potentially adding to the ranks if they can successfully navigate their way through qualifying on Monday.

Wildcard Matthew Ebden will be looking to start 2020 well when he takes on American Mitchell Kreuger, a win setting him on course to possibly meet top-seeded Frenchman Ugo Humbert, the world No.57, in the third round.

Jason Kubler has also entered the main draw as a wildcard. The Queenslander, who was largely out of action through 2019 with injury, replaced Thanasi Kokkinakis who withdrew on Friday citing ongoing health concerns. Kubler, 26, faces Indian Prajnesh Gunneswaran with the winner to face Japan’s Taro Daniel (No.13).

Elsewhere, South Australian Alex Bolt plays Filip Horansky of Slovakia, wildcards Max Purcell and Aleksandar Vukic face China’s Zhizhen Zhang and Ecuadorian Emilio Gomez respectively, while Andrew Harris takes on veteran Romanian Marius Copil.

Wildcard Akira Santillan has a tough first round encounter, drawing former world No.19, Korean Hyeon Chung, with the winner to face Italian second seed Andreas Seppi.

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