Andy Murray may have to repeat his Olympic feat of beating the world's top two players if he is to win the US Open, which begins here on Monday. Yesterday's draw for the year's final Grand Slam event set up a possible semi-final confrontation between Murray and Roger Federer, while Novak Djokovic is the top seed in the other half of the draw. Murray beat Djokovic and Federer in the semi- finals and final respectively of the Olympic tournament at Wimbledon earlier this month.
With Rafael Nadal missing because of a knee injury, the draw here was always going to ensure that either Federer, the world No 1, or Djokovic, the world No 2 and defending champion, would be able to reach the final without facing one of the game's "Fab Four". Fortune favoured Djokovic, who is seeded to meet David Ferrer in the semi-finals, although Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 champion, is a potential danger in the previous round.
While the latter stages would almost certainly offer major challenges for Murray, the 25-year-old Scot appears to have a favourable draw in the first three rounds. Milos Raonic, who has one of the biggest serves in the game, could provide one of his stiffest tests in the last 16.
Murray, nevertheless, has not been in his best form in two Masters Series tournaments following the Olympics. He failed to go beyond the third round at either Toronto or Cincinnati, where Djokovic and Federer won the titles.
The three British women definitely in the main draw here all face tough tasks. Anne Keothavong starts out against Germany's Angelique Kerber, who has climbed more than 100 places in the world rankings to No 6 in the last year, while Heather Watson faces China's Li Na, the 2011 French Open champion.
Laura Robson, who is here by dint of her world ranking for the first time, will play a qualifier in the first round, with the winner likely to face Kim Clijsters.
Elena Baltacha, who was the British No 1 until losing her place to Keothavong in June, is not here because of an ankle problem. Johanna Konta, who was born in Australia but was given British citizenship earlier this year, was playing her second match in qualifying last night against Japan's Kurumi Nara.
Murray will be the only British man in the singles competition after James Ward and Josh Goodall fell in the first round of qualifying. The two Britons were beaten by Russia's Dmitry Tursunov and Argentina's Guido Andreozzi respectively.
Route to victory: Murray's potential path
1st round A Bogomolov Jnr (Rus) World No 73, aged 29
Shocked Murray in Miami last year but lost two subsequent meetings.
2nd round I Dodig (Croa) World No 118, aged 27
First time he has ever come up against Murray
3rd round F Lopez (Sp) World No 31, aged 30
Big-serving left-hander has taken one set off Murray in six matches.
4th round M Raonic (Can) World No 16, aged 21
Emerging talent, won only meeting with Murray in Barcelona this year.
Quarter-final J-W Tsonga (Fr) World No 6, aged 27
Lost last five meetings with Murray, including Wimbledon this year.
Semi-final R Federer (Swit) World No 1, aged 31
Beaten Murray in three Slam finals but lost to him in Olympic final.
Final N Djokovic (Serb) World No 2, aged 25
Defending champion who has won both their Grand Slam meetings.