US Open 2014: Andy Murray faces tough route against old rivals from the outset in New York
Haase, Stepanek, Verdasco, Tsonga, Djokovic, Wawrinka and Federer are all possible opponents on the Scot's quest to win a second crown at Flushing Meadows
Andy Murray always refuses to look beyond his first opponent, which is probably just as well given the draw that the 27-year-old Scot was handed for next week’s US Open.
Murray’s route is strewn with tricky challenges, from the moment he starts against the Dutchman Robin Haase, who took the first two sets off him here three years ago before succumbing in five.
Murray’s second opponent could be Radek Stepanek, who ended his run of 19 consecutive grass-court victories at Queen’s Club this summer. In the third round Murray could face Fernando Verdasco, who came closest to beating him at Wimbledon last year, and in the fourth he might face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who beat him in Toronto earlier this month.
In order to win the title Murray might have to beat top-10 opponents in his last four matches, starting with Tsonga. He is seeded to meet Novak Djokovic, the world No 1, in the quarter-finals, after which he could face Stan Wawrinka, the Australian Open champion, in the semi-finals and Roger Federer in the final. Murray has not beaten a top-10 player or won a title since he did both in beating Djokovic in the Wimbledon final last year.
Heather Watson and Johanna Konta, the Britons in the women’s singles, both have winnable first-round matches but could then face tough challenges. Watson meets Romania’s Sorana Cirstea, having beaten the world No 81 in both their previous matches, after which her probable second-round opponent would be Eugenie Bouchard, the Wimbledon runner-up.
Konta will play Shahar Peer, who as the world No 155 is ranked 34 places beneath her. If Konta beats the Israeli her likely second-round opponent will be Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, who beat Serena Williams at the French Open.
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