Australian Open 2017: Murray to face Ilya Marchenko in opening round

World number one Andy Murray will face Ukrainian Ilya Marchenko in the opening round of the Australian Open which starts next week.

The Scot has been placed in the same quarter of the draw as the 17-time major champion Roger Federer, who he could meet in the last eight.

Murray, who has never won the title in Melbourne despite reaching five finals, is also in the same half of the draw as the 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka, who is a potential semi-final opponent for the top seed.

Konta looking to repeat last year's success

In the women’s draw, British number one Johanna Konta, seeded ninthwill take on Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens in the first round.

Konta, who reached the semi finals last year, could meet the 2014 runner-up Dominika Cibulkova in the fourth round and is also in the same quarter of the draw as six-time champion Serena Williams.

Elsewhere, British number two Heather Watson will come up against the 18th seed and home favourite Samantha Stosur in round one.

Watson’s compatriot Naomi Broady will also face an Australian in the opening round in world number 25 Daria Gavrilova.

British men handed favourable draws

Britain’s three other singles players will all face men ranked outside the world’s top 50.

Dan Evans, who reached the final of the ATP 250 event in Sydney earlier today, will play Argentine Facundo Bagnis before a potential second round against the seventh seed Marin Cilic.

Britain’s number two Kyle Edmund has been paired with Santiago Giraldo of Colombia while Aljaz Bedene will meet world number 103 Victor Estrella Burgos.

Tough opener for the defending champion

Murray’s main nemesis and defending champion Novak Djokovic has been handed a tricky opening round match against the powerful Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, who squandered five match points against the Serb when they met in Doha just a week ago.

Verdasco, an often-unpredictable customer, also knocked out Rafael Nadal in the opening round last year.

Should Djokovic progress he could run into eighth seed Dominic Thiem in the quarters. Looking further ahead, Nadal or the giant Canadian Milos Raonic could provide the Serb’s opponent in the semis.

Nadal, seeded ninth, will play German Florian Mayer in his first match when the Spaniard will hope to make amends for last year’s first round exit.

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