In all probability Andy Murray will still have to defeat world number one Novak Djokovic in order to claim a maiden Australian Open title, though any potential clash cannot arrive until the final.
After the draw for 2016’s first Grand Slam took place in the wee hours of Friday morning GMT, Murray fans are waking up to very favourable news indeed.
Britain’s Davis Cup hero could not have asked for a better draw. Not only has he swerved five-time and defending champion Djokovic in his half of it, but Roger Federer has also been avoided and would only be faced if the two men reach the showpiece.
That leaves Rafael Nadal and Stanislas Wawrinka as the two biggest obstacles to Murray reaching a fifth final at Melbourne Park in the bottom section, though the Scot cannot face either former Aussie Open champion until at least the semis.
The highest seed in Murray’s quarter is Spaniard David Ferrer, whom the British number one has beaten in his last five contests, including the Davis Cup last year, and in both of their past two Slam showdowns.
Such a relatively clear path to the last four makes offers huge encouragement to Ladbrokes customers looking to have a wager on the father-to-be.
The Dunblane native has a pretty gentle-looking launch to his Aussie Open adventure too, against little-known German teenager Alexander Zverev, just 18.
Zverev is the current world number 83, winning 18 and losing 24 of his professional career matches to date.
The omens for Murray to finally make the breakthrough Down Under (the early arrival of his first child aside) are looking particularly good.
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