Murray handed tough opener

  • Last Updated: January 11 2013, 13:16 GMT

Andy Murray has been drawn against Dutchman Robin Haase in the first round of the Australian Open - and cannot meet Novak Djokovic until the final.

Andy Murray: US Open champion aiming for first title in Melbourne
Andy Murray: US Open champion aiming for first title in Melbourne

Murray had to fight back from two sets to love down to big-serving Haase at the 2011 US Open before edging a five-set epic.

Currently ranked 54 in the world, Haase hits the ball hard and flat on both flanks and he represents a tough opening challenge for Murray. The match has been scheduled for Tuesday.

The good news for Murray is that he has been drawn in the same half of the draw as Roger Federer rather than Djokovic - which means he is seeded to face the Swiss veteran rather than the world No 1 in the semi-finals.

Provided Murray sees off Haase, he should have an easy passage to the fourth round. He will face either Portugal's Joao Sousa or local wildcard John-Patrick Smith in the second round and Florian Mayer, the German veteran, is his likely third-round opponent

Then it gets harder, with either Gilles Simon or Alexandr Dolgopolov - both massively talented but equally as erratic - a potential banana skin in the fourth round.

Murray's likely quarter-final opponent is sixth seed Juan Martin del Potro, possibly the man most likely to mount a serious challenge to the top three seeds and the last man the Scot would have wanted in the last eight.

Then it should be Federer - but the No 2 seed has a horrific draw.

His first-round opponent is improving Frenchman Benoit Paire, but waiting in the third round is the great Australian hope Bernard Tomic, and if he gets past that, the hulking Canadian Milos Raonic is likely to be next, followed by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarters.

Top seed and defending champion Djokovic - who beat Murray in the semi-finals last year - will face Paul Henri-Mathieu, the experienced Frenchman in the first round and his first major test is likely to be Tomas Berdych in the last eight.

Murray said: "It sounds like a cliché, but I don't really ever look beyond the first round of the draws.

"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."

Murray has performed well in Australia in recent years, reaching finals in 2010 and 2011 before going down in an epic last-four clash with Djokovic 12 months ago.

"I always love coming out to Australia," he 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."

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