Tennis: Andy Murray has been handed a tricky draw for the Australian Open, which gets under way next week.
The Scot will face world number 54 Robin Haase of Holland as he aims to add to his maiden grand slam victory at the US Open last year.
Murray’s opener is scheduled for Tuesday and, should he win, he is then seeded to face Joao Sousa, Florian Mayer and Gilles Simon before a probable quarter-final clash with big-hitting Argentinian Juan Martin Del Potro.
From then, he is scheduled to meet 17-time grand slam winner Roger Federer, who has won three of their last four meetings on hard courts, with two-time defending champion and world number one Novak Djokovic a probable final foe.
Although Murray will have privately mapped his route to the latter stages, the 25-year-old insists he is not looking past his clash with Haase, against whom he has a 1-1 record with the Scot’s victory coming in five sets at the 2011 US Open.
Murray said: “It sounds like a cliche, 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 40º during the day, so fitness and recovery definitely play a big part.”
In the women’s draw, British number one Heather Watson will play Alexandra Cadantu and Laura Robson faces Melanie Oudin.
Watson and Robson will both be hoping to perform well in Australia, with last week’s world rankings placing them in the top 50.
Watson appears to have the slightly more favourable draw, as she starts he tournament against Romania’s world number 89.
Cadantu won the duo’s only previous encounter, but Watson will be confident following an impressive 2012 which saw her win her first WTA title.
Should Robson negotiate Oudin of the US, then she will meet former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova or former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone in round two.
Serena Williams opens against Romania’s Edina Gallovits-Hall, while reigning champion and world number one Victoria Azarenka plays Romanian Monica Nicolescu.
Williams and Azarenka are in the same half of the draw, which could also see Venus Williams take on Maria Sharapova in round three.
Second seed and last year’s beaten finalist Maria Sharapova meets fellow Russian Olga Puchkova first up.