Australia Open: Andy Murray to face qualifier

Murray, who is seeded sixth, was drawn in the same half as Rafael Nadal, with Roger Federer a potential quarter-final opponent. Picture: Getty

Murray, who is seeded sixth, was drawn in the same half as Rafael Nadal, with Roger Federer a potential quarter-final opponent. Picture: Getty

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ANDY MURRAY will face a qualifier in the first round of the Australian Open, which gets under way in Melbourne on Monday.

Murray, who is seeded sixth, was drawn in the same half as Rafael Nadal, with Roger Federer a potential quarter-final opponent in a repeat of last year.

Federer beat Murray in four sets at the same stage in 2014 before losing to Nadal in the semi-final, the Spaniard going on to lose to Stanislas Wawrinka in the final.

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Wawrinka opens his defence against Turkey’s Marsel Ilhan, with top seed Novak Djokovic drawn to face a qualifier. Nadal takes on Russia’s Mikhail Younzhny.

British number two James Ward was given a tough draw against 31st seed Fernando Verdasco.

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In the women’s event, British number one Heather Watson will take on Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova, who at 67th in the world is ranked 18 places below Watson.

Top seed Serena Williams was drawn against Belgium’s world number 106 Alison Van Uytvanck, with second seed Maria Sharapova up against a qualifier.

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