Murray opens with Soeda clash

January 10, 2014
Tennis - Bet Now at Bet365

Andy Murray will begin his quest to win the second Grand Slam of his career when he takes on Japan's Go Soeda in the first round of the Australian Open.

The number four seed, who beat Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final six months ago, has reached the final in Melbourne on three occasions, losing to Roger Federer in 2010 and to Djokovic in 2011 and 2013.

The 26-year-old Scot, 9.00 to win the Australian Open outright, only returned to action two weeks ago following back surgery.

Elsewhere in the first round draw, world number one Rafael Nadal, who beat Federer in the 2009 final, will face home hope Bernard Tomic.

Three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic begins against Slovakian Lukas Lacko, while sixth seed Federer faces Australian wildcard James Duckworth.

In the women's draw, the 17-year-old wildcard Ashleigh Barty takes on the world number one Serena Williams, 1.66 to win the Australian Open title outright.

Second seed and two-time defending champion Victora Azarenka begins against Sweden's Johanna Larsson while the British number one Laura Robson faces Belgian 18th seed Kirsten Flipkens.

Meanwhile, Heather Watson is just one victory away from qualifying for the main draw after Stephanie Foretz Gacon was forced to retire when trailing 6-0 2-0 to the British star.

Watson will play American Irina Falconi on Saturday in the final qualifying round.

Watson said after progressing: "That's how I want to play. I came in with a different approach today. It was nice to get through the first match but now I'm feeling better I want to hit the shots that I've been practising - I want to hit them in the match too and I was just very pleased with how I was playing.

"I've played Irinia Falconi in doubles and I've practised with her a lot. I'm actually very good friends with her off the court.

"I know how she plays and I'm looking forward to getting out there tomorrow and playing like I did today. She's a smaller girl so she isn't going to overpower me, I don't think, but she's got great hands, great touch and I'm sure she'll be using that tomorrow."

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