The mens singles draw for the Australian Open has potentially served up a difficult route to the final for Britain’s Andy Murray, who is drawn in the top half along with defending champion and world number one Novak Djokovic.
Should both players win their first five matches then they will meet in the semi final in what will be billed as a rematch of last year’s final, which Djokovic won emphatically in straight sets.
Before that takes place however, Murray in particular has been given a tough looking first round opener against the highly regarded up and coming American, Ryan Harrison. The 20 year old Harrison will be remembered for the battle he put up against Spain’s David Ferrer at Wimbledon last summer where as an unlucky loser qualifier for the main draw he took the seventh seeded Ferrer to five sets before finally losing this second round match.
Djokovic meanwhile has a much easier task in his first round after drawing experienced Italian Paolo Lorenzi who is ranked at number 108 in the world rankings. The two have only met once before which came at Queens in London on grass which Djokovic won comfortably in two straight sets.
In the bottom half of the draw, it would appear that four time Australian Open champion, Roger Federer, who is seeded three, will face his long term nemesis and the man who beat him in the 2010 Australian Open final, Rafael Nadal should they both reach the last four.
The two both meet qualifiers in their opening rounds, although Federer will not be altogether pleased that he may have to face Juan Martin Del Potro in the last 16. Del Potro who is getting back to his very best after a wrist injury kept him out of tennis for almost a year was the man who defeated Federer in the 2009 US Open Final and who has the hard court game that can defeat the world number 3.
In the Ladies singles, number one seed Caroline Wozniacki will face Australian Anastasia Rodionova in her opening round, while number two seed and reigning Wimbledon champion, Petra Kvitova will face Vera Dushevina an experienced player who reached the fourth round in this tournament in 2005.
Defending champion Kim Clijsters will face a qualifier in her first round with the possibility of meeting Britain’s Elena Baltacha in the second round. Clijsters who is seeded 11 for the tournament also faces the prospect of facing Wozniacki should they both make it through to the last 16.
Meanwhile, five time winner, Serena Williams has found herself drawn in a tricky opener against the lively Austrian Tamira Paszek ranked at number 44 in the world and who reached the fourth round in both of the latest Grand Slam events, Wimbledon and the US Open.
As far as the betting is concerned the bookmakers clearly believed it prudent to shorten the odds of Djokovic to win the mens singles and now have him as short as 5/4, with Federer at 3/1, Murray at 5/1 and Nadal at 7/1. Others being backed in the mens singles are Del Potro and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who are both listed at around the 16/1 mark. Here has been little change in the Ladies market, with Kvitova remaining the 5/2 favourite, followed by Williams at 4/1, third seed, Azarenka at 6/1 with Clijsters at 8’s.