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Andy Murray faces Grigor Dimitrov in Brisbane International first round ahead of Australian Open

Rafael Nadal will play for the first time since injuring his hip at the Australian Open last year; the 22-time Grand Slam champion will play a qualifier in the first round; Watch the Brisbane International live on Sky Sports from 1am on Sunday

Andy Murray in action during a men's singles match at the 2023 US Open (AP)
Image: Andy Murray will face Grigor Dimitrov in the first round of the Brisbane International

Andy Murray has drawn Bulgarian second seed Grigor Dimitrov in the first round of the Brisbane International, while Emma Raducanu will face a qualifier on her return to competitive action at the Auckland Classic.

The British pair are stepping up their preparations for the Australian Open which begins on January 14, as is Rafael Nadal, who will play for the first time since injuring his hip in Melbourne last year.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion will play a qualifier in the first round in Brisbane, but not before he first competes in a doubles match alongside Marc Lopez, whom he partnered at Rio 2016 to claim an Olympic gold medal.

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Rafael Nadal says there are no expectations on his return to Brisbane International as he sets to return from a year-long injury.

Nadal underwent hip surgery in June and the 37-year-old Spaniard has previously warned that 2024 is "probably going to be my last year on the professional tour".

But he said he was encouraged by his fitness, confessing he feels "much better than what I expected a month ago".

"I can't have super long-term goals because I don't see myself playing a super long time," he said on Friday.

"I don't know how things are going to keep going. I'm not a player who tries to predict what can happen in the short term, and it's even tougher in the medium period of time.

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"How I need to approach this process is accepting the adversity and that things aren't going to be perfect at the beginning. I just have to stay with the right attitude and the working spirit every day."

Holger Rune is the lone top-10 player in action in Brisbane and will face Australian Max Purcell in the first round. American third seed Ben Shelton will take on Roman Safiullin, the 21-year-old looking to build on his semi-final run at his home slam at Flushing Meadows last year.

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Ben Shelton reflected on how far he's come in his short professional career, having become the youngest American to progress beyond the fourth round of the US Open since 2002.

Murray's match with Dimitrov is a repeat of the 2013 Brisbane final, which the former British No 1 won. He leads their overall head-to-head record by eight wins to four losses.

Raducanu faces qualifier in Auckland | Osaka makes Brisbane return

Raducanu missed most of 2023 after having operations on both of her wrists and an ankle but will make her competitive return at the Auckland Classic, one year on from exiting the same tournament in tears after rolling her ankle during a second-round match.

The former US Open champion will face a qualifier in her first match back on court, before then playing the winner of Caroline Wozniacki's clash with second seed Elina Svitolina in the second round.

The 2021 US Open champion was offered a wildcard for the WTA tournament in Auckland, and if she is able to win her first match would face either Caroline Wozniacki or Elina Svitolina in the second round.

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Emma Raducanu believes she's a better tennis player than before she had her lengthy injury.

The 21-year-old is feeling confident ahead of her comeback, telling Sky Sports: "I think I'm a better tennis player than I was before the break."

"Physically, in practice over the last few weeks, I'm hitting the ball really well," she added.

"It's just about now putting it into a match, which is obviously completely different to practice. I know that will come in time though - as long as the level is there and improving."

Reigning US Open champion, and last year's winner in Auckland, Coco Gauff, will play Claire Liu in the first round.

Elsewhere, at the Brisbane International, four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka marks her return to tennis by taking on world No 84 Tamara Korpatsch of Germany.

It will be Osaka's first match since September 2022. The former world No 1 pulled out of last year's Australian Open before later revealing she was pregnant.

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Naomi Osaka says she wants to show her daughter 'she's capable of everything' as the former world number one gets set to return to tennis at the Brisbane International.

"Being a mum has changed my life a lot. I think it changed my perspective on a lot of things," Osaka said ahead of her return.

"Giving birth was one of the most painful things I've ever gone through. It's definitely made me feel like physically I can handle a lot.

"I want to show Shai [her daughter] that she's capable of everything, so that's one of my main purposes and main reasons why I want to be back out here."

The Brisbane International is live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Mix from 1am on Sunday morning

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