Murray lands favourable draw in bid for first Australian Open
The Australian Open gets underway on Monday, and world number one Andy Murray should be pretty pleased with his potential route to the final.
The Scot will open against Illya Marchenko, with John Isner and Lucas Pouille potentially the only significant stumbling blocks in the opening four rounds.
Murray has met Ukraine’s Marchenko once before, prevailing in straight sets at the 2011 Australian Open.
Kei Nishikori, Tomas Berdych or Roger Federer could await in the last eight, before a clash with three-time Slam champion Stan Wawrinka in the semis.
That’s assuming the Swiss doesn’t come unstuck against home favourite Nick Kyrgios in a potentially thrilling fourth round clash.
At 6/4, Murray shares top billing in the market with Novak Djokovic, and the Serbian should also have few concerns in the early rounds.
Richard Gasquet and Gregor Dimitrov are the big-name opponents lying in wait early on, but Djoko posts an 18-2 combined record against the pair.
The main dilemma for the world number two shouldn’t occur in the semis, where Milos Raonic could line-up on the other side of the net.
The Canadian reached his first Slam final last season at Wimbledon, and many are tipping the 25-year-old for a big year in 2017.
Over in the women’s draw, each of Angelique Kerber and Serena Williams should be waltzing into the last eight.
Neither of the world’s top two are due to play anyone inside the top 14 in the opening rounds.
Fourth favourite Garbine Muguruza could come unstuck in the fourth round against fellow Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro, while Simona Halep might end up against Venus Williams at the same stage.
And after winning the Sydney Open with a fine win over Agnieszka Radwanska, Jo Konta has a tough few rounds ahead of her in Melbourne.
The Australian-born Brit has been drawn in the same section as former world number one Caroline Wozniacki and 2013 French Open finalist Sara Errani.
You can add Dominika Cibulkova to that group too, and the Czech heads into the new season having reached more WTA finals last year than anyone else.
Konta will need to use that Sydney Open momentum right from the off next week, as her opening round clash sees her take on the vastly experienced and 2013 Wimbledon semi-finalist Kirsten Flipkens.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing