Andy Murray to play Ukraine's Illya Marchenko in first round of Australian Open
Briton could face Roger Federer in quarter-finals
By Mark Ashenden
Last Updated: 13/01/17 8:37am
World No 1 Andy Murray will face Ukraine's Illya Marchenko in the opening round of the Australian Open, which kicks off on Monday.
The Briton and top seed in Melbourne was also drawn in the same quarter as Roger Federer and could therefore meet the 17-time Grand Slam champion in the last eight.
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The Scot is chasing a fourth Grand Slam title and his first in Australia, where he has reached the final five times.
In the women's draw, Britain's Johanna Konta, seeded ninth, was handed a tricky opening tie against Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens.
Heather Watson and Naomi Broady will both face Australian opponents, with Watson playing the experienced Samantha Stosur and Broady up against Daria Gavrilova.
Britain's three other male participants see Kyle Edmund face Santiago Giraldo, Dan Evans play Facundo Bagnis while Aljaz Bedene was paired with Victor Estrella Burgos.
Marchenko, ranked 93rd in the world, represents a kind start for Murray but the 29-year-old's route could become tougher from the third round onwards.
The British No 1 is then due to meet big-serving American Sam Querrey, who beat Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon last year, before a potential fourth round match-up with the unpredictable Frenchman Lucas Pouille.
Djokovic, a six-time Australian Open champion, surrendered the world No 1 spot at the end of last year but undoubtedly remains Murray's biggest threat. The Serbian is up against Spain's Fernando Verdasco in round one.
"I've obviously never beaten him here," Murray said. "I've lost to him four or five times, a couple of them were tough matches, a couple of them were very easy for him so I need to try to turn that around here.
"There's a good chance that if I want to win the event I'll have to play against him. He's played unbelievably here, I think he's won six times, which is an incredible record.
"Hopefully I can get by him this year but he's definitely my biggest rival and someone I've been competing against for 18 years now."
Federer, seeded 17th after missing the second half of last season through injury, was always the banana-skin in the draw but Murray would certainly start as favourite against the 35-year-old, who is playing his first competitive tournament since Wimbledon.
Stan Wawrinka is Murray's potential semi-final opponent before another possible showpiece against second seed Djokovic, to whom the Briton has lost four previous finals here.
Three-time major winner Wawrinka, the 2014 champion, faces a challenging first round clash with Slovak Martin Klizan, with a possible fourth round against tempestuous Australian talent Nick Kyrgios.
Rafa Nadal, the 2009 champion and seeded ninth this year, plays German journeyman Florian Mayer first up as he seeks to revive his career after a barren two years at the majors.
A potential blockbuster quarter-final against third seed Milos Raonic looms for the 30-year-old Mallorcan, who has failed to reach the last four at a grand slam since his 2014 French Open triumph.
Serena Williams has been dealt a perilous first clash against Swiss talent Belinda Bencic as the American bids for a record 23rd grand slam title in the professional era.
Check our game-by-game updates from Andy Murray's matches at the 2017 Australian Open by following our blog on skysports.com/tennis, our app for mobile devices and iPad or our Twitter account @skysportstennis.
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