Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic have been handed a tricky draw at the Australian Open, starting on Jan 16 at the Melbourne Park. Although former world No1 Roger Federer has an easy opener, the Swiss ace will face stern challenges as he advances in the opening grand slam of the season.
World No1 Murray will begin his quest for a first Australian Open title against Illya Marchenko. The Scot has a 1-0 advantage against the Ukrainian, winning their lone meeting here at the 2011 edition. Murray could potentially face world No 16 Lucas Pouille in the fourth round and either No 5 Kei Nishikori or Federer in the quarter-finals.
Similarly for world No 2 and defending champion Djokovic, the path to the top will not be easy. The Serb will open against veteran Fernando Verdasco. Although Djokovic leads 9-4 head-to-head, including a third-round victory in the 2015 edition, the Spaniard has the ability to upset big names, as was seen in the first round against Rafael Nadal here last year.
Former world No 1 Djokovic could potentially face world No 15 and recent Brisbane champion Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round and eighth seed Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals.
Federer will start against a qualifier and could face No 10 Tomas Berdych in the third round, Nishikori in the fourth and Murray in the quarter-finals.
Nadal will open his campaign against Germany’s Florian Mayer and could face No 24 Alexander Zverev in the third round and sixth seed Gael Monfils in the fourth.