Australia Open: Andy Murray to play Germany’s Alexander Zverev

Andy Murray. Picture: Getty
Andy Murray. Picture: Getty
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Andy Murray will play Germany’s talented youngster Alexander Zverev in the first round of the Australian Open.

The British number one, seeded second, was also drawn in the same half as Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka and Spain’s Rafael Nadal. He could meet either player in the semi-finals.

Murray is bidding to clinch a third grand slam title of his career and his first in Melbourne.

Avoiding Roger Federer, who landed in the same half as top seed Novak Djokovic, until the final is a bonus for Murray but he faces a potential banana-skin in the fourth round against big-serving Australian Bernard Tomic. Spaniard David Ferrer is a possible quarter-final opponent.

Before then, the 28-year-old must overcome Zverev, whom he beat comfortably at the Hopman Cup in Perth last week but has never faced before in a professional match.

The 18-year-old, measuring 6ft 6 and ranked 83rd in the world, is widely considered one of the game’s rising stars.

Last year he beat world number 12 Kevin Anderson in Washington, the destructive South African who knocked Murray out of the US Open.

If the Scot comes through unscathed, another Australian powerhouse Sam Groth could await in the second round, with Portugal’s Joao Sousa a potential opponent in round three.

READ MORE: Andy Murray “Scottish / British” myth dispelled

British number two Aljaz Bedene will open up against America’s world number 32 Steve Johnson while Kyle Edmund, the promising 21-year-old from Yorkshire, faces Damir Dzumhur from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Djokovic, who is gunning for his sixth Australian Open title, is up against 19-year-old Hyeon Chung from South Korea.

In the women’s draw, Britain’s Johanna Konta and Heather Watson were both handed tough opening ties.

Konta, who enjoyed a superb breakthrough season in 2015, is drawn with Venus Williams, the seven-time major champion whom she took to three sets before losing at Wuhan in October.

Watson will take on world number 59 Timea Babos. She lost to the Hungarian in three sets at Cincinnati last year.

Top seed Serena Williams is bidding to equal Steffi Graf’s Open-era record of 22 grand slam titles but the world number one will not have it easy in Melbourne.

Italian Camila Giorgi, the highest ranked non-seed, awaits in the first round and she could meet Maria Sharapova, whom she beat in the final 12 months ago, as early as the last eight.

Williams pulled out of matches at the Hopman Cup last week with a knee injury but moved to ease concerns about her fitness.

“Everything’s really well,” she said before the draw. “I’m feeling good. I’m excited about it. I’m ready now.”