Murray handed tough draw in Melbourne
Originally published on: 13/01/12 11:25
Andy Murray has been handed a tough draw for the Australian Open and faces the prospect of having to beat world No.1 Novak Djokovic if he is to reach the Melbourne final for a third successive year.
The Scot opens the first Grand Slam of the year with a tricky test against talented teen Ryan Harrison, with the prospect of a fourth round meeting with Gael Monfils, a quarter-final against 2008 finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and a semi-final against Djokovic, who beat him in a convincing three sets in last year’s final.
And the Serb seems in confident mood ahead of his challenge for a third triumph at Melbourne Park, where his 2011 victory kick-started an incredible season to follow.
“I’ve been playing the best tennis of my life, especially in the first six months of the season,” said Djokovic.
“I guess it probably started here in Australia. I played incredible in the later rounds and it gave me a lot of confidence and put the wind on my back.
“Mentally I gained that necessary strength. I began to believe I could win the major tournaments along with the big names Federer and Nadal. They have been the two most dominant players in the game. They have been my two biggest rivals along with Andy Murray.”
Meanwhile, Federer and Nadal have been drawn in the same half of a Grand Slam draw for the first time since the 2005 French Open – when the Spaniard went on to beat Federer in the semi-finals – while home hopes Lleyton Hewitt and Bernard Tomic have been handed more favourable draws.
Wildcard Hewitt faces world No.83 Cedrik-Marcel Stebe while Tomic opens his account against the often unpredictable Fernando Verdasco – less of a daunting prospect after his wins over Tomas Berdych and Gael Monfils at the Kooyong Classic event this week.