Andy Murray will be top seed at Australian Open

Sir Andy Murray, could face Rafael Nadal early in the tournament. Picture: AP.

Sir Andy Murray, could face Rafael Nadal early in the tournament. Picture: AP.

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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 No 1 in November after winning four tournaments in a row, will today be placed in the opposite half of the 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.

Among the other British entries, Kyle Edmund has surprised even winter training partner Murray with his progress up the rankings. The 22-year-old Yorkshireman broke into the top 50 last season, beating four top-20 players and reaching the fourth round of the US Open. Edmund, ranked 45, possesses one of the biggest forehands in the game and his mature, calm temperament is another major plus.

Dan Evans, the former bad boy of British tennis is a reformed character, finally matching talent with dedication and reaping the rewards.

Evans climbed from 183 in the rankings at the start of 2016 to a high of 53 in September, reaching the third round at both Wimbledon and the US Open, where he held match point against eventual champion Stan Wawrinka.

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

Williams, who also surrendered the world No 1 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 overtake 
Steffi Graf’s Open-era record 22 major triumphs.

British No 1 Johanna Konta, seeded ninth, made a superb run to the Australian Open semi-finals last year before eventually falling to Kerber.

She then built on that run through a spectacular season. She won her first WTA Tour title, climbed into the top ten and very nearly qualified for the WTA Finals, featuring the best eight players in the world. Konta has picked up where she left off at the start of 2017 and goes into the Australian Open as a genuine contender

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

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