Draw does Murray no favours

January 16, 2015 07:57:25 UK

Andy Murray has been handed a tough draw at the Australian Open, being placed in the same half as Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, but he will face a qualifier first.

Murray, seeded sixth for Melbourne, could have to beat Nadal, Federer and world number one Novak Djokovic if he wants to claim the Australian Open title for the first time, having lost in the final on three previous occasions.

Grigor Dimitrov, who defeated the Scot at Wimbledon last year, is seeded to meet Murray in the last 16, with Federer then a likely quarter-final opponent.

According to the seedings, Nadal awaits the winner of that match, although the Spaniard, only just returning after injury and illness face a tough opener against Russian Mikhail Youzhny.

Number one seed Djokovic is tucked away in the other side of the draw, along with defending champion Stan Wawrinka, who beat an injury-hampered Nadal in the Melbourne final last year to claim his first Grand Slam title and recent US Open finalist Kei Nishikori.

Djokovic is 1.83 to win a fifth Australian Open crown, with Murray 8.00 and Federer 6.50.

In the women’s draw, the only British representative, Heather Watson, has been handed a very testing opener against Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova, who reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 2010.

However, Watson will head to Melbourne in good heart, having defeated American Alison Riske 6-3 7-5 to reach the final of the Hobart International.

Watson overcame six rain delays, one at match point, to progress to within one victory of only her second WTA Tour title, the first having come at the Japan Open in 2013.

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