FOURTH seed Andy Murray will launch his Australian Open title bid against veteran Romania Andrei Pavel.
34-year-old Andrei, whose best results have been in doubles in recent seasons, should prove less of an obstacle than Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who stunned the Scot with a first-round knockout last year. Pavel has slumped to 568th in the world rankings after being as high as 13 five years ago.
The players have met once before with Andy winning in five sets in the first round of the 2005 US Open. Andy has been seeded fourth in Melbourne despite some bookies making him favourite.
It was only last summer, on the Wimbledon grass, that Andy made his first appearance in a grand slam quarter-final. Now the bookies believe that he has a greater chance of success in Australia than Roger Federer, who has 13 grand slam titles, a greater chance than Rafael Nadal, the world No 1, and a greater chance than Novak Djokovic, the current champion, who will be defending his title at Melbourne Park.
That is because Andy Murray has started 2009 so well. He beat Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in a pre-season exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi, and in Doha defeated Roger again in the semi-finals in Doha, before finishing off the job by trumping American Andy Roddick. Andys results in the Middle East could not have been better.
In spite of Andy's huge success, World No.1 Rafael Nadal is top seed for the first Grand Slam of the year with Roger Federer a place behind - the first time in four years the Swiss star has not topped the draw.
Rafael faces an opener with Belgian Christophe Rochus while Roger Federer meets Italian Andreas Seppi in the first round.
With Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray rising to challenge the two superstars at the very top of the men's game, some are suggesting that 2009 will see men's tennis enter a new golden age. It is clear that we are going to see some wonderful tennis from the fab four over the next few weeks. The excitement starts on monday.
Copyright Speakers Corner 2016