Murray must run gauntlet to claim Australian Open crown
Andy Murray will have to be at his very best if he is to claim a first ever Australian Open title, with the draw putting him on a path to face Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal before a final showdown with reigning champion Novak Djokovic.
The 26-year-old is a 9/1 shot with Ladbrokes to claim his first major Down Under, having reached the final on three separate occasions, losing once to the Swiss star and twice to the Serb including a four set loss in last year’s final.
Murray will start with what should be a relatively straightforward opener against Go Soeda, a player the Scot has never previously faced, but one that is also ranked 112th in the world going into the competition.
The second round pits him against another qualifier, though from then on out, the Wimbledon champion faces a potentially tricky route to success.
A projected third round clash with Feliciano Lopez could prove tough, with Murray then on course to meet no.13 seed John Isner in the fourth round.
Following that, it’s on to the big boys, with the former US Open winner potentially facing Roger Federer, who remains a credible threat to his chances despite a recent downturn in form, and is the fifth favourite to recapture the title he last won in 2010 at odds of 20/1.
It only gets tougher from there, with 11/4 shot Rafael Nadal potentially lying in wait for the Scot, with victory leaving Murray on course for a reunion with Djokovic in the final.
Neither the Serb or the Spaniard are likely to be popular figures Down Under, with the draw pitting the clay court specialist against home favourite Bernard Tomic in the first round.
The reigning champion and 5/6 favourite, meanwhile, could face two other Antipodean favourites in the form of youngster Thanasi Kokkinakis, or at the very least 2002 Wimbledon champion Leyton Hewitt.
Murray will have fond memories of his classy victory over the Serb at SW19 last summer and with the home crowd likely to favour him, provided he’s on top form, a repeat could still be on the cards.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date
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