French Open 2017: Andy Murray to play Russian Andrey Kuznetsov in the first round at Roland-Garros

The World No 1 could face Juan Martin del Potro in the third round of the tournament, with the 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka a potential semi-final opponent

Luke Brown
Friday 26 May 2017 10:55 BST
Murray could face old foe Del Potro in the third round
Murray could face old foe Del Potro in the third round

Andy Murray will play Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov in the opening round of the 2017 French Open, and could face a difficult match against the former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro in the third round.

Nine-time Roland-Garros champion Rafael Nadal, who is seeded fourth for the tournament, was drawn in the opposite half to Murray and will play against home hopeful Benoît Paire in the first round. Nadal is in the same half of the draw as last year’s winner Novak Djokovic which means the two men could meet in the semi-finals of the competition.

Murray will begin his tournament against the World No 85 Kuznetsov, who reached the third-round of the French Open in 2015 and made it to the fourth round of the Australian Open last year. Murray will however be confident of progression, having won their previous two matches, at the US Open in 2014 and in Beijing last year.

If he beats Kuznetsov, Murray will face either Slovakia’s Martin Kližan or the French wildcard Laurent Lokoli in the second round. But it is the potential third round clash with Del Potro that will make Murray nervous. Despite his struggles with injury the Argentinean remains one of the most feared players on the Tour and he was a French Open semi-finalist in 2009.

World No 14 Tomáš Berdych and former US Open finalist Kei Nishikori are potential fourth round and quarter-final opponents, with Murray enjoying superior head-to-head records against both men. The 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka is the highest seeded player in Murray’s half of the draw, and a likely semi-final opponent should the Scot shake off his poor form and injury concerns and enjoy a deep run at the tournament.

Meanwhile, British number two Kyle Edmund will face Portugal’s Gastao Elias – who is yet to win a match in the main draw of a Grand Slam – in the opening round. Aljaz Bedene will play Ryan Harrison from the USA, while Dan Evans will play against the Spanish veteran Tommy Robredo.

In the women’s singles, Great Britain’s Johanna Konta will open her tournament against Sui-Wei Hsieh. The two women have played twice before, with Hsieh winning their first encounter at Eastbourne in 2013, and Konta gaining some revenge in Vancouver a few months later.

Konta is hoping to reach the second round of the French Open for the first time

Konta has improved markedly since then and will be expected to beat the Taiwanese player, but her poor clay court form will be of some concern ahead of her first match. Agnieszka Radwańska and Karolína Plíšková are potential opponents further into the tournament.

Konta will not be joined in the women’s singles by British number two Heather Watson, who suffered a disappointing straight-sets defeat to the Dutch player Richel Hogenkamp in the final round of qualifying.

Watson has failed to qualify for the main draw

Watson is currently ranked 13 places below World No 105 Hogenkamp and made a slow start to the match, losing the first set 6-0. She was quickly broken in the second-set to lose the match 6-0, 6-3. It will be the first time Watson has failed to appear in the opening round of a Grand Slam since the 2011 Australian Open, when she lost in the second-round of qualifying.

In the main draw, World No 1 Angelique Kerber will face Ekaterina Makarova of Russia in round one, while defending champion Garbine Muguruza was given a difficult path starting with former champion Francesca Schiavone.

Title favourite Simona Halep, who is battling an ankle injury, was drawn in the same quarter as Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, who beat her in the final in Rome last weekend.

A number of familiar names were meanwhile missing from Friday's draw. 18-time grand slam champion Roger Federer is skipping the claycourt season, two-time champion Maria Sharapova was denied a wild card and three-time winner Serena Williams is expecting a child.

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