Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Sir Andy Begins Grand Slam as Top Seed for First Time; TENNIS

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Sir Andy Begins Grand Slam as Top Seed for First Time; TENNIS

Article excerpt

SIR Andy Murray will be the top seed at a grand slam for the first time in his career at this year's Australian Open.

Murray, who became world number one in November after winning four tournaments in a row, was placed in the opposite half of today's draw to Novak Djokovic, who is seeded second.

Djokovic is likely to be Murray's chief rival again in Melbourne, where he is a six-time champion and has beaten the Scot four times in the final.

After sitting out the second half of last season with back and knee problems, Roger Federer is seeded 17th, meaning the Swiss could be drawn to meet either Murray or Djokovic as early as the third round.

Federer has won four Australian Open titles but the 35-year-old has not played a competitive tournament since Wimbledon last year. Rafael Nadal represents another potential early foe.

The Spaniard is seeded ninth and could therefore meet any of the top four seeds in the last 16.

Canada's Milos Raonic, who lost to Murray in last summer's Wimbledon final, is seeded third, while reigning US Open champion Stan Wawrinka is four.

Angelique Kerber is top of the women's draw and bidding to defend her Australian Open crown after upsetting Serena Williams in the final here last year.

Williams, who surrendered the world number one spot after Kerber won the US Open in September, is seeded second.

While Kerber is looking for her third grand slam success, Williams is chasing her 23rd, which would see her overtake Steffi Graf's Openera record 22 major triumphs. British number one Johanna Konta is seeded ninth. Konta made a superb run to the Australian Open semi-finals last year before eventually falling to Kerber.

Main draw matches at the first grand slam of the year start on Monday.

| DAN Evans claimed his first victory against a top-10 player while Konta reached the women's final on a brilliant night for British tennis at the Apia International in Sydney. …

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