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Andy Murray faces a tough task to reach his fourth Australian Open final after being handed a tough draw for the first Grand Slam event of 2014.
The Scot has been playing down his chances of success in Melbourne after undergoing back surgery in September and he may be feeling even less optimistic after seeing the draw.
Murray will begin the tournament with a first-round clash against Go Soeda from Japan but he also finds himself in the same half of the draw as Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro.
The Wimbledon champion, who can be backed at 10.00 to go all the way and win, is seeded fourth as he plays his first big event since his operation.
There should be no problems for Murray when he takes on Soeda in the first round. The 29-year-old is outside the world’s top 100 and has never made it past the second round in the eight Grand Slam events he has played.
However, it is the rest of the draw that will be a concern for Murray fans as he could meet Federer in the quarter-finals and then may have to play 2009 champion Nadal in the semis.
Elsewhere, Novak Djokovic, who has won three Australian Opens and is priced at 3.75 to make it four, will face Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko, while the Serbian will have a likely quarter-final with eighth seed Stanislas Wawrinka.
In another intriguing first-round clash, Nadal will take on Australia’s big hope Bernard Tomic.