Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Tennis

Rafael Nadal set to shatter the Andy Murray dream

Andy Murray must beat Rafael Nadal if he is to reach his first Wimbledon final after yesterday's draw produced mixed fortunes for British competitors.

Fourth seed Murray opens his fifth appearance at the All England Club when he meets Jan Hajek of the Czech Republic, 26, for the first time.

Hajek has made just one visit to Wimbledon, losing in the first round in 2007, and is ranked 80 in the world.

But the draw has not been so kind to former Wimbledon junior champion Laura Robson, who faces Serbian fourth seed Jelena Jankovic in the opening round.

Britain's remaining women have been given a smoother ride but Murray's fellow Scot Jamie Baker — the only other domestic interest in the men's singles — faces a difficult start.

Baker, a wildcard ranked 259 in the world, faces German Andreas Beck in the first round with French 32nd seed Julien Benneteau his likely opponent a round later.

Though positioned in the same quarter of the draw as Murray, Baker is highly unlikely to meet his compatriot as their paths do not meet until the quarter-finals.

A more probable last-eight opponent for Murray, who reached the semi-finals last year, is Spanish ninth seed Fernando Verdasco, though there is a possibility he could meet gifted Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

The fourth round could prove very tricky for the British number one with American Sam Querrey, a standout performer on grass who won Queen's last week, or 17th seed Juan Carlos Ferrero waiting.

Should he progress, Murray's route to the fourth round should include matches against Jarkko Nieminen of Finland and 26th seed Simon Gilles — giving him time to find some form before facing the big guns.

World number one and second seed Nadal, Wimbledon champion in 2008, will launch his Championships against Kei Nishikori of Japan with a semi-final against Murray looming later in the tournament.

Roger Federer will open his title defence against Colombian Alejandro Falla, who has never progressed beyond the second round at SW19.

Top seed Federer, second in the rankings behind Nadal, is targeting a seventh title at SW19 and has been handed the kindest passage into the final of all the top four seeds.

Not so lucky is fourth seed Novak Djokovic, who is likely to have to overcome 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt and three-time finalist Andy Roddick in order to set up a semi against Federer.

In the women's singles, Robson's clash with Jankovic is the standout match from a British perspective.

Offering a glimmer of hope to the 16-year-old is that Jankovic has never progressed beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon and can be a slow starter.

British number one Elena Baltacha will meet Petra Martic of Croatia — ranked 15 places lower at 77 — in the first round but is likely to face 11th seed Marion Bartoli in the second.

Melanie South faces Russian Regina Kulikova, 69 in the world, but fellow wildcard Katie O'Brien faces a tougher test against 28th seed Alona Bondarenko of the Ukraine.

British number three Anne Keothavong has been drawn against Anastasia Rodionova — ranked 81 places higher at 76 — while Heather Watson will play Italian qualifier Romina Sarina Oprandi.

Defending women's champion and top seed Serena Williams has been drawn against Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal.

Larcher de Brito is ranked 148 in the world and failed to progress beyond the second round on her Wimbledon debut last year.

Second seed Venus Williams will battle with Roassana De Los Rios of Paraguay for a place in the second round.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph