Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Murray Facing Oz Obstacles

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Murray Facing Oz Obstacles

Article excerpt

ANDY MURRAY will have to do it the hard way if he is to land his first grand slam crown at the Australian Open.

On first glance, Murray was yesterday handed a good draw but closer inspection reveals plenty of hazards as he bids to win his first major.

An opening-round match against Slovakian Karol Beck is unlikely to test the Scot with Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo or Illya Marchenko lying in wait for the winner.

Beck, ranked 104th in the world, returned to the sport in 2007 after serving a two-year drugs ban following a positive test for clenbuterol in the 2005 Davis Cup, having risen into the world top 40 earlier in his career.

A third-round clash with Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, seeded number 32, should hold no fear for Murray, likewise a potential fourth-round meeting with talented but erratic 11th seed Jurgen Melzer. However, from the last-eight stage things could get tricky with Murray scheduled to meet Robin Soderling, the Swede who replaced him this week as world number four.

Murray holds a 3-2 edge in the head-tohead record but Soderling has improved considerably over the last couple of years and will present a formidable challenge for last year's beaten finalist at Melbourne Park.

Should he prevail, the 23-year-old would then face Rafael Nadal.

Murray was the only man to beat the left-handed Spaniard in a major last year after ousting an ailing Nadal here in the quarter-finals before watching on as the world number one then swept to glory at the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open.

Roger Federer - the winner of a record 16 grand slam crowns and the defending champion - is his potential opponent in the final.

Nadal is likely to make untroubled progress to the last four as he attempts to become the first man to hold all four major titles since Australia's Rod Laver in 1969.

His opening-round opponent is Marcos Daniel of Brazil while Marin Cilic and Mikhail Youzhny are both on the radar before a potential last-eight meeting with countryman David Ferrer. …

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