Tennis

Andy Murray begins US Open defence against Llodra

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Andy Murray will begin the defence of his US Open title against Frenchman Michael Llodra. If Murray is to win his third Grand-Slam, it is likely that he will have to face Novak Djokovic in a semi-final.

The match-up which has featured as three of the last four Grand-Slam finals can this year only be a semi-final following Murray's drop in the world-rankings to number three earlier this week. 

While offering few matches of genuine intrigue in the first four rounds, the draw is likely to produce some interesting match-ups from the quarter-finals onwards, should the seeds progress. 

Djokovic will begin his own campaign against Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania while current number two, Rafael Nadal opens against home player Ryan Harrison. David Ferrer who completes the world top-four will face an as of yet unspecified qualifier in the opening round. 

Roger Federer, who is seeded outside of the top-three at a tournament for the first time since 2003, begins against Grega Zemlja and is likely to resume his rivalry with Nadal as early as the quarter-final. 

Murray boasts a three-nil lead in the head-to-head against the world number 49 Llodra and will be confident of progressing through the early rounds, with his likely opponents should he defeat the Frenchman being, Victor Hanescu, Xavier Malisse and Denis Istomin.

However should he make the quarter-finals, he is likely to face either Stanislas Wawrinka or Tomas Berdych, both of whom Murray has fallen to in recent competitions; losing to Wawrinka in Monte Carlo and Berdych last week in Cincinatti.

Compared to their closest rivals, Murray and Nadal appear to have the most challenging pathways to the final. The Spaniard has received a draw that lines him up against a number of home players, most notably 13-seed John Isner.

However in his current form he will be undaunted by the early rounds and would potentially have the easier latter stages. Similarly Djokovic will hope to make straight forward progression to the quarter-finals where he is likely to face former US-Open champion Del Potro.

While the draw favours Djokovic; with perhaps the easier final-rounds and his current rich form, Nadal will be seen as marginal favourite. 

Yet with Federer-Nadal potentially coming as early as the quarter-finals, and Djokovic and Murray likely to face rivals whom they have recently endured a torrid time against, this year's US-Open is likely to produce a more competitive and unpredictable conclusion the the tournament than the previous slams of this year. 

For players such as Berdych, Wawrinka and Del Potro, if they can put themselves in the frame for matches against the top-four there is a serious chance that they could enhance their reputations in New York. But as Wimbledon showed, there's nothing to say that the earliest rounds will not produce a hero or two. 

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Topics:
US Open Tennis
Andy Murray
Tennis

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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