Australian Open

Murray, Djokovic face testing Australian Open draws

2017-01-13 08:26
Andy Murray (Getty Images)

Melbourne - World No 1 Andy Murray could face challenges from Kei Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka if he is to reach a sixth Australian Open final following Friday's draw.

The Scot, coming off a magnificent 2016 with a second Wimbledon crown, a successful Olympic title defence and the year-end top ranking, has lost five Melbourne finals, four of those to defending champion Novak Djokovic.

Murray, who was knighted in Britain's New Year Honours list, faces Ukraine's Illya Marchenko first up and could meet Japanese fifth seed Nishikori or Swiss legend Roger Federer in the quarters and 2014 winner Wawrinka in the semis.

Federer, seeded 17, faces a qualifier first up and could play 10th seed Tomas Berdych in the third round as he bids to add to his record 17 Grand Slam titles.

Djokovic, in the bottom half of the men's draw as the second seed, has a tough first-round against experienced Spaniard Fernando Verdasco.

Verdasco, ranked 40, has beaten Djokovic four times in their 13 encounters and the Serb had to save five match points in prevailing over him earlier this month in the semi-finals in Doha.

Last year Verdasco knocked out compatriot Rafael Nadal in a five-setter first round thriller in Melbourne.

Serbia's Djokovic, bidding for a record seventh Australian Open title, is seeded to face Brisbane International winner Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round and powerful Austrian eighth seed Dominic Thiem in the quarters.

He could then meet Canada's big-serving third seed Milos Raonic in the semi-finals.

Raonic opens against flashy German Dustin Brown while 13th seed and recent Chennai champion Roberto Bautista Agut is a likely fourth-round matchup.

Nadal, who won the 2009 Australian Open and has been in two other Melbourne finals, is seeded nine and is in Raonic's third quarter of the draw and in the bottom half with Djokovic.

The Spanish left-hander could have a third-round clash in store against rising German star Alexander Zverev.

The 24th-seeded Zverev has a string of scalps including two victories over Federer, most recently at this month's Hopman Cup.

Australia's explosive Nick Kyrgios is seeded 14 and opens against Portugal's tricky Gastao Elias and could face Wawrinka in the fourth round.

Former German world number two Tommy Haas, aged 38, is competing in his first tournament since Vienna in October 2015 and will have a first-round match against Frenchman Benoit Paire.

Australian wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis withdrew before the men's singles draw due to a stomach muscle strain and his spot will be filled by a lucky loser from the qualifying draw.

The draw made on Friday for the Australian Open men's singles in Melbourne (x denotes seeding):

TOP HALF

Andy Murray (GBR x1) v Illya Marchenko (UKR)               

Qualifier v Lu Yen-hsun (TPE)   

Alex De Minaur (AUS) v Gerald Melzer (AUT)               

Quentin Halys (FRA) v Sam Querrey (USA x31) 

John Isner (USA x19) v Konstantin Kravchuk (RUS)               

Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) v Mischa Zverev (GER)

Malek Jaziri (TUN) v Qualifier

Qualifier v Lucas Pouille (FRA x16)               

Tomas Berdych (CZE x10) v Qualifier               

Ryan Harrison (USA) v Nicolas Mahut (FRA)               

Qualifier v Qualifier               

Qualifier v Roger Federer (SUI x17)

Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP x26) v Qualifier               

Marcel Granollers (ESP) v Dudi Sela (ISR)               

Nicolas Almagro (ESP) v Jeremy Chardy (FRA)               

Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS) v Kei Nishikori (JPN x5) 

Stan Wawrinka (SUI x4) v Martin Klizan (SVK)               

Federico Delbonis (ARG) v Steve Johnson (USA)

James Duckworth (AUS) v Paolo Lorenzi (ITA)

Damir Dzumhur (BIH) v Viktor Troicki (SRB x29)               

Pablo Cuevas (URU x22) v Diego Schwartzman (ARG)               

Steve Darcis (BEL) v Sam Groth (AUS)

Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA) v Andreas Seppi (ITA)

Gastao Elias (POR) v Nick Kyrgios (AUS x14)               

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA x12) v Thiago Monteiro (BRA)

Dusan Lajovic (SRB) v Stephane Robert (FRA)

Karen Khachanov (RUS) v Adrian Mannarino (FRA)

Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) v Jack Sock (USA x23)               

Bernard Tomic (AUS x27) v Thomaz Bellucci (BRA)

Victor Estrella Burgos (DOM) v Aljaz Bedene (GBR)               

Facundo Bagnis (ARG) v Daniel Evans (GBR)               

Jerzy Janowicz (POL) v Marin Cilic (CRO x7)

BOTTOM HALF

Gael Monfils (FRA x6) v Jiri Vesely (CZE)

Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) v Borna Coric (CRO)

Qualifier v Donald Young (USA)

Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) v Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER x32)

Alexander Zverev (GER x24) v Robin Haase (NED)

Qualifier v Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ)

Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) v Marcos Baghdatis (CYP)

Florian Mayer (GER) v Rafael Nadal (ESP x9)               

Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP x13) v Guido Pella (ARG)

Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) v Qualifier

Daniil Medvedev (RUS) v Qualifier

Omar Jasika (AUS) v David Ferrer (ESP x21)

Gilles Simon (FRA x25) v Michael Mmoh (USA)

Jared Donaldson (USA) v Rogerio Dutra Silva (BRA)

Gilles Muller (LUX) v Taylor Fritz (USA)

Dustin Brown (GER) v Milos Raonic (CAN x3)

Dominic Thiem (AUT x8) v Jan-Lennard Struff (GER)

Jordan Thompson (AUS) v Joao Sousa (POR)

Tommy Haas (GER) v Benoit Paire (FRA)

Fabio Fognini (ITA) v Feliciano Lopez (ESP x28)

Ivo Karlovic (CRO x20) v Horacio Zeballos (ARG)

Adam Pavlasek (CZE) v Andrew Whittington (AUS)

Dmitry Tursunov (RUS) v Qualifier

Qualifier v David Goffin (BEL x11)

Grigor Dimitrov (BUL x15) v Christopher O'Connell (AUS)

Hyeon Chung (KOR) v Renzo Olivo (ARG)

Radu Albot (MDA) v Carlos Berlocq (ARG)

Qualifier v Richard Gasquet (FRA x18)

Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP x30) v Qualifier

Kyle Edmund (GBR) v Santiago Giraldo (COL)

Denis Istomin (UZB) v Qualifier

Fernando Verdasco (ESP) v Novak Djokovic (SRB x2)

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