Andy Murray handed tough draw against world No 23 Roberto Bautista Agut in Australian Open first round while British No 1 Kyle Edmund will take on Tomas Berdych
- Andy Murray will be playing his first competitive match since September
- He struggled during a practice match against Novak Djokovic on Thursday
- Kyle Edmund is facing a tough opening match against Czech Tomas Berdych
Andy Murray faces a huge battle just to make it through the first week of the Australian Open after he joined Kyle Edmund in being handed an opening draw fraught with difficulty.
The twice Wimbledon champion, whose deflated ranking gave him no seeding protection, meets world No 23 Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain.
British No 1 Kyle Edmund, returning after making the semi-finals twelve months ago, was given one of the most dangerous ‘floaters’ in long time top tenner Tomas Berdych.
Andy Murray has been drawn against Roberto Bautista Agut for the Australian Open first round
Kyle Edmund was also given a difficult opener against former top-10 stalwart Tomas Berdych
Earlier on Thursday Murray played a serious practice match against Novak Djokovic and was beaten 6-1, 4-1, indicating the problems he is facing from a combination of ringrust and his chronic hip problem.
Now comes a huge test at a tournament where he has traditionally played so well before suffering his physical issues.
Even if he got past the rock solid Spaniard he would likely play home favourite John Millman, who knocked Roger Federer out of the US Open. Then he would be scheduled to encounter tenth seed Karen Khachanov, the powerful Russian of whom great things are expected this year.
There is little point looking beyond that, or the fact that he is in the same half as defending champion Roger Federer and No 2 seed Rafael Nadal.
Murray struggled when facing Novak Djokovic in a serious practice match on Thursday
The pair of Wimbledon winners leave the court after their full-blooded session in Melbourne
Thirteenth seed Edmund has a huge number of points after his Australian exploits of 2018 but he has pulled out the booming Czech, who missed the second half of last season and subsequently has a falsely deflated ranking of 57.
The indications are that the back problems Berdych suffered are behind him as he reached the final of the ATP Qatar Open earlier this month.
British No 2 Cam Norrie will face American Taylore Fritz, his doubles partner, who he beat on Thursday to make the semi-finals of the ASB Classic in Auckland.
Novak Djokovic meets a qualifier but could face Jo Wilfried Tsonga in the second round.
Norrie could be paired against Federer in the third round, but with the Brits that is looking some way ahead.
Murray could be seen in animated discussions with his team following the encounter
Murray could not make life difficult for the world No 1, who was mainly on cruise control
The pair met ahead of the Australian Open and played in front of a crowd on Thursday
The Scot could be seen in clear discomfort during points of the match against Djokovic