Murray heads long list of Britons in action on opening day in Australian Open

  • Posted: Jan 13, 2019
Australian Open 2019
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 14-27 January
Coverage: Daily live commentaries on the BBC Sport website, listen to Tennis Breakfast daily from 07:00 GMT on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and watch highlights on BBC TV and online from 19 January

Andy Murray will play what could be the final match of his career when the Australian Open begins in Melbourne on Monday.

Three-time Grand Slam champion Murray faces Spanish 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut not before 07:00 GMT.

The 31-year-old Scot announced on Friday he will retire this year because of a hip injury.

“I can still play, but not to a level I’m happy playing at,” he said.

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Bautista Agut, who beat world number one Novak Djokovic on his way to winning the Qatar Open last week, says he still expects a tough match, despite knowing Murray is feeling pain when he plays and could quit if he loses.

“Everybody knows when Andy goes on court he gives 100%. He has fought all his career and Monday’s match will be the same,” he said.

You can follow live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and listen to every point on BBC Radio 5 live sport extra’s Tennis Breakfast programme.

Defending women’s champion Caroline Wozniacki, seeded third, opens the night session on Rod Laver Arena – Melbourne Park’s main show court – against Belgium’s Alison van Uytvanck at 08:00 GMT.

Swiss third seed Roger Federer begins his defence of the men’s title after that match, against Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin, who famously beat Djokovic here in 2017.

Second seeds Rafael Nadal and Angelique Kerber – both former champions – also play on Monday.

  • Monday’s full order of play

British invasion on Monday

Murray is one of seven Britons opening their tournaments at Melbourne Park on Monday, with only women’s number one Johanna Konta playing on Tuesday.

Kyle Edmund, who has replaced Murray as the country’s highest-ranked man, meets former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych at about 05:00 GMT in the match preceding Murray’s potential farewell match on Melbourne Arena.

First-time qualifier Harriet Dart has the honour of opening up the tournament on Laver against five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova at 00:00 BST, while Katie Boulter and Heather Watson also have early starts.

Opening on the outside courts, Boulter plays Russian Ekaterina Makarova and Watson takes on Croatian 31st seed Petra Martic.

British number three Cameron Norrie meets American Taylor Fritz not before 06:00 GMT, with qualifier Dan Evans bidding for a potential second-round match against 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer about 04:00 GMT.

‘Sharapova has always been my idol’

Dart, 22, won three matches in Melbourne last week to qualify for the main draw for the first time, landing her with a dream tie against her “idol” Sharapova.

The 31-year-old Russian, seeded 30th, won her maiden Slam at Wimbledon in 2004 when Dart was aged seven.

“She has been so successful in the game. There are many things why I look up towards her,” said the Londoner, who is ranked 131 in the world.

“I was pretty young when she first won Wimbledon, I have always looked up to her and it will be pretty cool to play her.”

Boulter, 22, says it is “incredible” to have gain direct entry to a Slam for the first time on the basis of her top 100 ranking, while 26-year-old Watson – who has won three WTA titles and is a former top 50 player – insists she still wants to achieve more in her career.

“The past couple of years have not been fantastic for me, I’ve scraped around and it is not good enough,” Watson, now ranked 108th, said.

Edmund fit but faces ‘tough’ draw on Melbourne return

Edmund, who is seeded 13th, missed last week’s Sydney International with a knee injury but insists he has no fitness concerns going into the first Grand Slam of the year.

The 24-year-old Yorkshireman is aiming to replicate his run to last year’s semi-finals, but has been given one of the toughest first-round draws possible in the shape of Berdych.

The 33-year-old Czech struggled for fitness last season, dropping outside of the world’s top 50 as a result, but showed signs of his recovery by reaching the Qatar Open final last week.

The two-time semi-finalist also has a formidable record in Melbourne, having reached at least the quarter-finals in seven of the past eight years.

“It is a tough draw to play Tomas who was a consistent top-10 player,” Edmund said.

“It is a similar feel to drawing Kevin Anderson in the first round last year, but I was in a good place and managed to come through in the fifth set.

“I’ve been feeling good on the practice courts this week and missing Sydney has been positive for my fitness and my game.”

Norrie and Evans target Federer – or each other

Norrie comes into the tournament having reached his first ATP final in Auckland last week, although he lost to American Tennys Sandgren in straight sets.

The 23-year-old, who will climb into top 70 as a result, beat Monday’s opponent Fritz on his way to the final.

And another victory in Melbourne could lead to him playing Federer – or potentially compatriot Evans – in the third round.

Evans, 28, came through qualifying to reach the main draw of a Slam for the first time since a drugs ban last year and plays Japan’s Tatsuma Ito in his opener.

“I’m fighting as hard and running as hard as I have done,” says Evans, who reached the fourth round here in 2017.

“I’m still feel a little behind but that will come with more matches – hopefully more in the main draw.”

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