Andy Murray has been handed a tough draw for the first round of the Australian Open after being paired with Roberto Bautista Agut. The former world No.1 has found the going tough on his return from an extended lay-off to rest his hip, which required surgery last year, restricting him to just six tournament appearances.
The three-time Grand Slam winner was eliminated from the Brisbane International in round two on his comeback and looked sluggish in a practice match with Novak Djokovic on Thursday, holding serve just once as he lost 6-1 4-1 to the Serb.
The world No.230’s difficult start to 2019 has now been made worse by the draw for the Australian Open with 22nd seed Bautista Agut awaiting him in round one. The Spaniard has lost all three previous meetings with Murray but has started the year strongly, beating Djokovic on route to winning the Qatar Open earlier this month.
The draw for the Melbourne Grand Slam has also not been kind to Murray’s compatriot Kyle Edmund, who is seeded 13th having reached the semi-finals Down Under last year.
Edmund will face former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych in his opening match, the Czech having slipped out of the world’s top 50 rankings due to injury. Meanwhile, defending champion Roger Federer will begin his quest for a third successive title against Denis Istomin, while No.1 seed Djokovic has been paired with an as yet unknown qualifier. Rafael Nadal, who is in the same half of the draw as Federer, will open up against home favourite James Duckworth.