Australian Open 2014: Andy Murray to face Japan's Go Soeda as he is drawn in same half as Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic

Laura Robson will face Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens in the women's draw

Andy Murray was drawn against Japan's Go Soeda in the first round of the Australian Open but it was the pairing of world number one Rafael Nadal with home hope Bernard Tomic that really captured the imagination.

There were gasps at Melbourne Park when the unseeded players were placed in the draw and the blockbuster match-up emerged.

Tomic is a mercurial talent who will relish taking on Nadal, with the Spaniard back in Melbourne for the first time in two years after missing the tournament 12 months ago as he recovered from knee problems.

Murray is seeded fourth for his first grand slam since undergoing back surgery in September and there was mixed news for the Scot from the draw.

Soeda, who he has never played before, is a 29-year-old ranked 112th in the world and should not present any real problems.

Should Murray prevail he would then play a qualifier before potentially meeting familiar foe Feliciano Lopez in the third round.

Given Murray's lack of matches, a kind first few rounds would have been his main hope, but from there things get a lot trickier.

The draw is markedly top heavy and, after John Isner in the fourth round, Murray could find himself having to beat Roger Federer, Nadal and Novak Djokovic if he is to lift a third grand slam title.

Second seed Djokovic, who has won the title for the last three years, will play Slovakia's Lukas Lacko in the first round while sixth seed Federer meets Australian wild card James Duckworth.

Djokovic, who travelled to the draw on a tram with reigning women's champion Victoria Azarenka, is playing his first grand slam since hiring two-time Australian Open champion Boris Becker as his head coach.

The Serbian said: "For me it's an honour to have him alongside all my other team members. We'll do our best to make a success of our partnership and it's just the start."

Laura Robson, Britain's only direct entrant into the women's draw, was given a tough first-round tie against Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens.

Flipkens is seeded 18th and had a surprise run to the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year.

Robson has yet to complete a match this season because of a left wrist problem but has been practising at Melbourne Park.

There was also an enticing match-up at the top of the women's draw, with world number one Serena Williams playing Australian wild card Ashleigh Barty.

Barty, 17, made two grand slam doubles finals last year and is ranked 153rd in singles having won the Junior Wimbledon title in 2011.

Williams is in the same half of the draw as fourth seed Li Na, who meets a qualifier first up, while second seed Azarenka plays Johanna Larsson of Sweden.

Also in the bottom half is third seed Maria Sharapova, who has returned to the tour after shoulder problems brought a premature end to her 2013 season.

The Russian has a potentially tricky draw against American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

Play is due to begin at Melbourne Park on Monday but the weather could cause delays, with projected temperatures of more than 40C.

The Australian Open has an extreme heat policy, and tournament director Craig Tiley revealed there are expected to be six days when the temperature tops 30C.

PA

Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the iWatch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own