Andy Murray has a difficult path to glory in Australia
Andy Murray needs to dig deep into his reserves of self-belief to have a chance of navigating a daunting path to a first Australian Open title.
That is the view of influential coach Nick Bollettieri, who saw the sixth seed handed a tough draw for the year's first Grand Slam in Melbourne yesterday.
Murray will take on a qualifier in the opening round but is seeded to meet Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov in the last 16, the man he lost to in straight sets in the Wimbledon quarter-finals last year.
Seventeen-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer is Murray's prospective quarter-final opponent for the second year running - Federer won in four sets 12 months ago - with third seed Rafael Nadal seeded to be awaiting the winner in the semi-final.
Top seed Novak Djokovic is in the other half of the draw and will be expected to reach a fourth Melbourne final in the last five years, the world number one winning the title three times in succession before last year's surprise quarter-final loss to eventual champion Stanislas Wawrinka.
"I do think Andy can contend," said the 83-year-old Bollettieri.
"He has a good forehand and backhand and the only question mark is that second serve. It has got to be more aggressive."
In the women's event, Heather Watson will take on Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova, who at 67th in the world is ranked 18 places below Watson.
Top seed Serena Williams was drawn against Belgium's world number 106 Alison Van Uytvanck, with second seed Maria Sharapova up against a qualifier.
KAROLA Bejenaru has made it through to the semi-finals of the Grade1 under-18 ITF event in the Czech Republic.
East Belfast teenager Bejenaru is having her best run at the highest level of the junior game, yesterday defeating Russian Ksenia Stashenkova - ranked 106th in the World - 4-6 6-1 6-1.
She now plays another Russian, Aleksandra Pospelova, for a place in the final.