Andy Murray: Wimbledon draw kind to number two seed
One hesitates to use the phrase 'dream draw'. Such words have a habit of coming back to haunt you.
So let's put it another way. Had you offered Andy Murray a Wimbledon schedule in which Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic were all missing from his 'half', he'd have signed for it without hesitation.
If there is such a thing as a 'bad' and a 'good' draw, the All England Club has definitely provided the latter for their best player since Fred Perry.
An interesting first-round match which Murray will have no problem getting motivated for?
After waiting a decade to face anyone British, Tuesday's tussle with Liam Broady will be the Scot's third match in a fortnight against players from these isles.
The all-British element will create a nice buzz around Centre Court, without Murray having to unduly worry about his prospects of advancing to round two. No disrespect intended to the world number 234 from Stockport.
A relatively comfortable second round to ease himself into the tournament?
Should Broady be beaten, it would then be either a qualifier or the world number 70 from Chinese Taipei, Yen Hsun Lu.
A testing third-round rendez-vous on the middle Saturday to prepare the body and mind for the upward curve of the second week?
In Benoit Paire, Andy Murray would potentially face an opponent who took a set from him in Monte Carlo this year, and who is just outside the top 20.
The Scot would expect to have too much for the Frenchman here at Wimbledon, but he'd have to play well to get the job done in three.
A fourth round to fully focus the mind?
If the seedings are correct, and Murray faces Nick Kyrgios on middle Monday for a place in the last eight, this would serve up a serious increase in the quality of opponent.
The mercurial Aussie is a former quarter-finalist here and is tipped for the top one day by many a tennis observer - if he can better channel his energy and undoubted talent.
Murray, however, has won all four of their tour-level meetings to date, losing just one set in the process.
A quarter-final against someone who hasn't beaten you in four years?
Richard Gasquet is the man seeded to block the home favourite's path to the last four. Yes, he's an extremely good player. Yes, his game is very effective on grass. Just not as effective as the 2013 champion, who has never lost to Gasquet on the green stuff, and not on any surface since the Rome Masters back in 2012.
In case Federer starts rolling back the years again, perhaps he could be avoided in the last four?
A semi-final against Stan Wawrinka, should both progress, would bring back some very fond recent memories for Murray.
It's only a matter of weeks since the pair were slugging it out on the Roland Garros clay for a place in the final of the French Open. It was one of the best performances from Murray in years, and arguably his best ever on the red dirt. The defending champion and his glorious one-handed backhand were duly despatched in four sets.
If it has to be Djokovic in the final - again - could he perhaps have a test or two in the previous six rounds?
|Last five Wimbledon men's singles finals|
|2011 - Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-1 1-6 6-3|
|2012 - Roger Federer beat Andy Murray 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4|
|2013 - Andy Murray beat Novak Djokovic 6-4 7-5 6-4|
|2014 - Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer 6-7 6-4 7-6 (7-4) 5-7 6-4|
|2015 - Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer 7-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-3|
The world number one and defending champion looks to have been dealt a difficult hand. His side of the draw seems stacked.
He plays James Ward, and the whole of Centre Court, on Monday in the first round - and may have to play the pantomime villain to another Englishman, Kyle Edmund, in round two.
The likes of Sam Querrey and David Ferrer could also lie in wait before a testing quarter-final with the big-serving Canadian Raonic, seeded sixth.
Either Federer or Nishikori, seeded third and fifth respectively, could then provide the semi-final opposition.
Not that the superlative Serb will be overly worried, of course. He hasn't lost a Grand Slam match to anyone since the French Open final over a year ago.
If all of the above goes to plan - and it rarely does, of course - then as at the Australian and the French (not to mention the Masters of Madrid and Rome), we'll have a final between Murray and Djokovic.
Clearly the best two players on the planet right now.
One has all four tennis majors on his mantelpiece in Monte Carlo. The other has endured a torrid time on the tracks of the ruthless, runaway Djokovic express.
Except, of course, when it comes to Wimbledon's Centre Court. The last time Ivan Lendl was in the player's box here, Murray famously won the title in straight sets - against Djokovic.
The year before, he beat him in the Olympic semi-finals at Wimbledon on his way to glorious gold against Federer.
There are other reasons to be cheerful for Murray and his many thousands of supporters in SW19.
The Scot has never had a more successful first half of the season. Reaching the final of the first two Grand Slams of the year, not to mention the finals of his last four tournaments.
Two titles were picked up along the way in Rome and at Queen's Club, the latter a historic fifth win.
Whoever faces Murray over the next fortnight, therefore, will have to produce some fabulous tennis to beat him over five sets on the green, green grass of home.
A dream draw? That may be overstating things, but not by much.