Murray wary of Kukushkin threat

Published: Saturday 27th June 2015 by The News Editor

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Andy Murray insists Mikhail Kukushkin will be a “tough guy to beat” after he drew the Kazakh in the first round at Wimbledon.

Murray, the 2013 champion, could also meet 10th seed Rafael Nadal in the last eight, but was drawn in the opposite side of the draw to Novak Djokovic, meaning the Scot cannot meet the world number one until the final.

Kukushkin is ranked 58th in the world and has lost to Murray on both of the previous two occasions they have played each other.

“He’s a good player, he’s had some big tournaments in the past,” Murray said.

“I think he played Rafa (Nadal) pretty close here last year and he can play well on the grass.

“He’s a good player. He’s plays predominantly from the baseline, but he’s a good ball striker and if you give him time to dictate the points he’s a tough guy to beat.”

Avoiding Djokovic will come as a relief to Murray, but his route to the final is far from easy, with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga potentially waiting in the round of 16 and he could face seven-time champion Roger Federer in the last four.

Murray has already reached the Australian Open final and French Open semi-finals this year, both times losing to Djokovic.

The British number one followed up his best ever clay-court season by winning the title at Queen’s on Sunday and he will be confident of bettering his performance last year at SW19, when he lost to Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals.

Djokovic remains the principal threat to Murray claiming a second Wimbledon crown, but the top seed faces a tricky opening encounter against Philipp Kohlschreiber and may have to beat Lleyton Hewitt, Bernard Tomic and Kevin Anderson – all dangerous opponents on grass – before the quarter-finals.

The world number one is due to meet fourth seed Stan Wawrinka in the last four, the same opponent he lost to at the French Open final only three weeks ago.

Federer, who is bidding for a record eighth Wimbledon triumph, will face Damir Dzumhur in the first round, while Nadal plays Thomaz Bellucci and Wawrinka is up against Portugal’s Joao Sousa.

There were difficult draws for Britain’s other male contenders as James Ward was pitted against Spaniard David Ferrer, whom he used to hit with during four years training in Spain.

Kyle Edmund, the 20-year-old who impressed at the French Open last month, is up against Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov, while Aljaz Bedene will face experienced Czech Radek Stepanek.

Liam Broady plays Marinko Matosevic and Brydan Klein will meet Italian 25th seed Andreas Seppi.

In the women’s draw, British number two Johanna Konta was handed a fearsome opening match against fourth seed and 2004 champion Maria Sharapova.

Konta arrives at the All England Club on the back of a superb run at Eastbourne this week, when she reached the quarter-finals thanks to victories over two top-20 players.

“This is what every tennis player dreams of, competing on a big stage, against the best and it’s even better that it’s at home at Wimbledon,” Konta wrote on Twitter.

British number one Heather Watson could meet top seed Serena Williams in the third round, but she will first have to come through a first-round clash against France’s Caroline Garcia.

Laura Robson, who has been given a wildcard after 17 months out with a wrist injury, faces Russian Evgeniya Rodina and British number three Naomi Broady plays Colombian Mariana Duque-Marino.

Published: Saturday 27th June 2015 by The News Editor

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