Andy Murray lands difficult Australian Open draw - Jack Draper v Rafael Nadal tie, Emma Raducanu avoids seeds
Berrettini, a big-serving Italian and former Wimbledon finalist, reached the last four in Melbourne last year and can call upon the experience of recent victories over Murray. He defeated the Scot in third round of the US Open back in September and also recorded two grass-court victories in 2022 over the 35-year-old, one at Queen’s and the other in the final of the Boss Open in Stuttgart. Murray, currently ranked 49 in the world, is unseeded for the first Slam of the year and as a result, was always going to run risk of facing a big player in the early rounds of the competition. Should he manage to overcome the 26-year-old, then a second-round match against either another Italian Fabio Fognini or home favourite Thanasi Kokkinakis would await him.
Murray, who defeated Alex de Minaur 6-3 6-3 at the Kooyong Classic on Thursday, is not the only British male to have been handed a difficult first-round encounter. Promising 21-year-old Jack Draper will take on defending champion and top seed Rafael Nadal in a blockbuster match. Draper has risen fast up the rankings and has begun the season in good form, beating Karen Khachanov to reach the semi-finals of the Adelaide International on Thursday. Nadal battled to a 21st grand slam title in sensational fashion in Melbourne 12 months ago but is yet to win a match in 2023 and has lost six of his last seven matches. There is no doubt Draper, who played Novak Djokovic on his Wimbledon debut in 2021, will relish the occasion as he looks to make a huge statement.
Kyle Edmund, playing at the tournament for the first time since 2020 following three knee operations, was also out of luck, drawing 11th seed Jannik Sinner. However, there was better news for the two British men’s seeds, with 11th seed Cameron Norrie drawing young French wild card Luca Van Assche, while 25th seed Dan Evans will meet Argentina’s Facundo Bagnis. Title favourite Djokovic will take on Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain and is in the same quarter of the draw as Australian Nick Kyrgios, who meets Roman Safiullin of Russia. Another Russian in last year’s runner-up Daniil Medvedev faces American Marcos Giron and could face a rematch with Nadal in the last eight should both players progress that far.
In the women’s draw, Emma Raducanu will open her campaign against German Tamara Korpatsch if she recovers from an ankle injury in time. The British number one is battling to overcome the problem she suffered in Auckland last week and at least has avoided a seed, instead drawing 74th ranked Korpatsch. Raducanu was again out on the practice courts at Melbourne Park on Thursday and looked to be moving fairly well. She could meet seventh seed Coco Gauff from the USA in the second round, while British No 2 Harriet Dart will face 32nd seed Jil Teichmann of Switzerland. World No 1 Iga Swiatek faces a potentially tough opener against Wimbledon quarter-finalist Jule Niemeier and two former Australian Open champions, Victoria Azarenka and Sofia Kenin, will meet in the first round.
Jodie Burrage and Yuriko Miyazki were bidding to add to the British ranks in the main draw but both were beaten in the final round of qualifying. Burrage lost 6-3 1-6 6-2 to France’s Selena Janicijevic while Miyazaki pushed former top-10 player Coco Vandeweghe to a deciding tie-break before going down 6-3 6-7 (3) 7-6 (1). Among those who did make it were a pair of Czech teenagers – 15-year-old Brenda Fruhvirtova, who joins sister Linda in the draw, and 16-year-old Sara Bejlek.