Andy Murray gets smooth ride in Australian draw before facing Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer
Andy Murray could have to beat both Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer if he is to win the Australian Open, but the 25-year-old Scot should be reasonably happy with his draw for the year's opening Grand Slam tournament, which begins here on Monday.
The draw, which was made outside the Crown Casino on the banks of the River Yarra in the heart of the city here early this morning, will see Murray take on Robin Haase, of the Netherlands, in the first round.
Murray beat the world No 54 in the second round of the US Open two years ago, which was their only meeting in a Grand Slam tournament. Haase won their only previous meeting, in Rotterdam five years ago.
Portugal's Joao Sousa or Australia's John-Patrick Smith will meet Murray or Haase in the second round. Thereafter Murray is seeded to meet Germany's Florian Mayer in the third round, France's Gilles Simon in the fourth, Juan Martin del Potro in the quarter-finals and Federer in the semi-finals. Djokovic is the top seed in the other half of the draw.
Murray, nevertheless, will not be thinking about any opponents other than his first. "It sounds like a cliché, but I don't really ever look beyond the first round of the draws,' he said today. "The strength of the men's game right now means it's dangerous to look too far ahead, so I'm happy taking it match by match."
The Scot, nevertheless, will go into the tournament in confident mood after making a winning start to his season last week. "The win in Brisbane was a great start to the year," Murray said today. "I didn't always play my best tennis, but I found a way to win and I was pleased with how I performed on the big points."
Murray, who reached the Australian Open final in 2010 and 2011 and the semi-finals in 2012, usually starts the year in good form. Sunday's win in Brisbane was his fourth in the first week of the season in the last six years. In the other two years he played in the Hopman Cup mixed team event in Perth with Laura Robson, reaching the final once and winning all his singles matches on his other appearance.
"I always love coming out to Australia," Murray said. "It's a great Slam and all the players love it. There's a laid-back atmosphere here and it definitely beats the weather back home this time of year. Having said that, it can hit 40 degrees during the day, so fitness and recovery definitely play a big part."
Few of his rivals will be in better shape than the world No 3, who spent most of December at his traditional Florida "boot camp", working both on his physical preparation and on his game, with the assistance of Ivan Lendl, his coach. "My preparation over the last few months has gone really well," Murray said. "The Miami training block was tough, as it always is, but I also did plenty of work on the court with Ivan, working on plenty of drills and hitting lots of balls."
Heather Watson and Robson, the two Britons in the competition by dint of their world rankings, both have reasonable draws. Watson meets the Romanian, Alexandra Cadantu, the world No 89, in the first round. The first seed Watson could meet would be Agnieszka Radwanska, the world No 4, in the third round.
Robson's first-round opponent will be the world No 82, Melanie Oudin, of the United States. Robson beat Oudin in the first round of qualifying here last year. In the second round Robson could face Petra Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon champion.