Tennis: Tough return for Grand Slam Murray

By Paul Newman

Britain's Andy Murray has made no secret of his ambition to be the world's top-ranked player.  Photo / AP
Britain's Andy Murray has made no secret of his ambition to be the world's top-ranked player. Photo / AP

Andy Murray warned that the rest of the season might be tough and his point was underlined yesterday when the draw was made for this week's Japan Open in Tokyo.

Murray's first match since his US Open triumph will be against Gail Monfils, who has the game to trouble any of the best players in the world.

Murray has long regarded Monfils as one of the sport's outstanding athletes, though the world No45's career has been dogged by injury. The 26-year-old Frenchman, who was world No7 only 14 months ago, has just returned after four months out with a knee problem. Murray has won three of their five meetings, but Monfils won the most recent, at the 2010 Paris Masters.

Albert Ramos or Lukas Lacko will face Murray or Monfils in the second round. Thereafter Murray is seeded to meet Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarter-finals, Milos Raonic in the semifinals and Tomas Berdych in the final. Murray beat both Raonic and Berdych en route to his first Grand Slam title in New York.

The world No1 ranking is a target for Murray in the coming months, but over the next fortnight the Scot can only lose points because he chose not to play last week in Bangkok, which was the first of three tournaments in succession which he won last year. He will be defending the titles both in Tokyo and at the Shanghai Masters, which begins in eight days.

While Roger Federer, the world No2, is not due to play again before Shanghai, Novak Djokovic, the world No1, is playing at this week's China Open in Beijing, where the field is even stronger than in Tokyo. David Ferrer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are the second and third seeds respectively.

Laura Robson, already at a career-high No57 in the world rankings after her run to the final in Guangzhou two weeks ago, will have a chance to make further progress after qualifying for the main draw for the China Open yesterday by beating the experienced Swede Johanna Larsson 4-6, 6-2,6-1.

Robson, aged 18, will now play the 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm, the oldest player competing regularly on the women's tour. Heather Watson, the British No2 behind Robson, was beaten 7-5, 2-6, 3-6 by Italy's Camila Giorgi in the final round of qualifying for Beijing.

World rankings

1 Novak Djokovic (Serbia)
2 Roger Federer (Switzerland)
3 Rafael Nadal (Spain)
4 Andy Murray (Great Britain)
5 David Ferrer (Spain).

- Independent

- NZ Herald

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