Succession of big-hitters served up for Murray
Opener with Davydenko then power merchants line up before possible semi-final with Nadal
It is just as well that Andy Murray has one of the best returns of serve in the game.
Yesterday's draw for Wimbledon, which begins on Monday, threw up the possibility of the 25-year-old Scot meeting four of the game's biggest servers en route to yet another semi-final showdown with Rafael Nadal, who has beaten him at the same stage of four of the last seven Grand Slam tournaments.
At 6ft 3in and 13st 3lb Murray measures up well against most opponents, but if he beats Nikolay Davydenko in the first round he could find himself up against four big-serving giants in succession in the formidable shape of Ivo Karlovic (6ft 10in), Kevin Anderson (6ft 8in), Milos Raonic (6ft 5in) and Juan Martin del Potro (6ft 6in).
"There's a lot of tough guys around, there's a lot of big servers who are tough early on in grass tournaments," Murray said.
Although Karlovic is not the force he was, Anderson has won the first two titles of his career in the last 18 months and 21-year-old Raonic – who might first have to find a way past Marin Cilic to reach the fourth round – is regarded as one of the game's outstanding prospects. If Del Potro fails to make it to the quarter-finals Murray's opponent could be yet another big server, Andy Roddick, though David Ferrer is seeded to emerge from that section of the draw.
It was almost inevitable that Murray would find himself in the same half of the draw as Nadal, who has beaten the Scot at three of the last four Wimbledons – in the semi-finals in 2010 and 2011 and in the quarter- finals in 2008. Remarkably, the two men have been paired in the same half of the draw in 16 of the last 18 Grand Slam tournaments in which they have both played. Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have become similarly familiar foes, having been drawn in the same half in 15 of the last 17 Grand Slam events.
Djokovic, the defending champion, has a potentially tricky opener against Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero, a former world No 1, but otherwise looks to have a comparatively easy passage until the quarter-finals, where he is seeded to meet Tomas Berdych. Federer, who is seeded to face either Janko Tipsarevic or John Isner in the last eight, also appears to have been treated kindly in the draw. Nadal, who could play Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter- finals, starts against Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci.
Isner, meanwhile, could face Nicolas Mahut in the second round, which would be the third year in succession that the American and the Frenchman have met here. Two years ago they played the longest match in history, which lasted more than 11 hours.
The draw has generally been kind to the other British men, although Jamie Baker will have his work cut out against Roddick, who has been rebuilding his confidence in Eastbourne this week after a woeful recent run. James Ward plays Spain's Pablo Andujar, who is world No 36 but has never won a main-draw match on grass, while Josh Goodall meets a fellow wild card in Slovenia's Grega Zemlja, who won a Challenger tournament on grass at Nottingham earlier this month. Oliver Golding, the US Open junior champion, faces Russia's Igor Andreev, the world No 92.
Of the British women, Laura Robson has the toughest draw on paper, but Italy's Francesca Schiavone, the world No 26 and a former French Open champion, has just one quarter-final appearance to show for her 12 visits to Wimbledon.
Robson, currently world No 111, is expected to break into the world's top 100 for the first time next week and will become the British No 2 behind Anne Keothavong.
Johanna Konta, who was born in Australia but was recently given British citizenship, faces America's Christina McHale, the world No 30. Keothavong, Elena Baltacha, Heather Watson and Naomi Broady all have winnable matches against Laura Pous-Tio (world No 100), Karin Knapp (No 109), Iveta Benesova (No 52) and Lourdes Dominguez Lino (No 71), respectively.
Venus Williams, unseeded for the first time for 15 years, faces Russia's Elena Vesnina and could meet Agnieszka Radwanska, the world No 3, in the second round. Kim Clijsters, who is unseeded for the fist time for 12 years, faces a fellow former world No 1 in Jelena Jankovic. Clijsters withdrew from her scheduled semi-final at the Unicef Open in the Netherlands yesterday because of a stomach muscle strain but is expected to be fit to play in what will be her final Wimbledon.
Possible path to the final: Murray's tough run
Nikolay Davydenko (Russia)
World No 47, aged 31
Former world No 3 is a declining force and is never comfortable on grass, having gone out in the first round at Wimbledon six times. Last of his four wins against Murray was four years ago
Ivo Karlovic (Croatia)
World No 57, aged 33
At 6ft 10in, the Croatian is the tallest top-100 player in the game's history. Lost to Federer in quarter-finals in best Wimbledon performance three years ago. Has lost all three meetings with Murray
Kevin Anderson (South Africa)
World No 30, aged 26
Late developer who broke into world's top 30 this year. Beat Murray for loss of only four games in their most recent meeting last year but he has only ever won one match on the grass at Wimbledon
Marin Cilic (Croatia)
World No 18, aged 23
Has not lived up to his early promise in last two years but won title at Queen's last weekend and has the game for grass. Beat Murray at 2009 US Open but has lost their other five meetings
David Ferrer (Spain)
World No 6, aged 30
Beat Murray in French Open quarter-finals earlier this month and has never lost to the Scot in four meetings on clay. However, Murray has won five of their six meetings on quicker courts
Rafael Nadal (Spain)
World No 2, aged 26
An all too familiar opponent. Nadal has won all three of their meetings at SW19, including the 2010 and 2011 semi- finals, but Murray has beaten him at the Australian and US Opens
Novak Djokovic (Serbia)
World No 1, aged 25
Grew up with Murray in juniors and made similar progress until his stunning 2011, when he became world No 1 and won three Slams. Has won eight of his 13 meetings with Murray
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