Wimbledon: Andy Murray gets no nasty surprises in draw
Until 1922, reigning Wimbledon champions only had to win a challenge round to retain their titles.
Andy Murray will have to work considerably harder than his early predecessors to reach the final but there should be no nasty surprises for him during the first week.
The champion may be relieved to see Stan Wawrinka joining Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the bottom half of the draw, although it does mean he is seeded to face Novak Djokovic a round earlier than he did last year.
The Serb is the top seed and has won nine of his last 11 Grand Slam semi-finals.
Murray's first-round opponent, David Goffin, made a name for himself at the French Open two years ago. A lucky loser from qualifying, he made it all the way through to the last 16 before winning the opening set against a man whose image used to adorn his bedroom walls.
Roger Federer was very complementary about the Belgian back then but, as the 104th-ranked player in the world, he should not provide too much resistance for Murray in the first match of the year on Centre Court.
Victory for the Scot would earn him a meeting with either Pablo Andujar, who has never won a match on grass, or Blaz Rola, a left hander who has lost twice to James Ward in the past month.
The following round would likely bring an encounter with Roberto Bautista Agut. The Spaniard has put in fine performances on the hard courts of Melbourne Park and the clay of Madrid's Caja Magica this season, but Murray will have a significant advantage on the grass if they do meet in the last 32.
The events of last year's opening week - when Federer, Sharapova, Azarenka and four other former world number ones all lost on the Wednesday alone - remind us of the folly of looking any further ahead.
|Murray v Goffin|
|Andy Murray||David Goffin|
|Date of birth (age)||15 May 1987 (27)||7 December 1990 (23)|
|Current world ranking||5||104|
|Career prize money||$31,544,067 (£18,510,954)||$972,264 (£570,700)|
But, as it's fun to do so, let's continue. Murray is seeded to meet his Davis Cup nemesis Fabio Fognini in the fourth round, and either David Ferrer or Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals. A match against the new Queen's champion could be one of the highlights of the fortnight.
There are 10 other British players competing in the singles' main draws this year . . .
James Ward v Mikhail Youzhny: Ward is probably playing as well as he ever has but this is a very tough draw against the 17th seed, who has reached the last 16 on no fewer than eight occasions.
Dan Evans v Andrey Kuznetsov: Having drawn another player outside the top 100, Evans has a good chance of recording his first ever Wimbledon main-draw win against the 23-year-old Russian.
Dan Cox v Jeremy Chardy: Consistency has taken the British number four to the cusp of the top 200, but it is hard to see him bridging a 172-place ranking gap.
Dan Smethurst v John Isner: Smethurst has been in eight Futures finals this year, winning three, and will need every ounce of the confidence he has gained against the ninth seed.
Kyle Edmund v Andreas Haider-Maurer: The Austrian only just squeezes into the top 100 and has little experience on grass, so this is one to keep an eye on. Edmund will start to beat players of this level before long, but is he ready to win over five sets at the age of 19?
Heather Watson v Ajla Tomljanovic: After an encouraging year, and an excellent week at Eastbourne, the British number one was a first-round opponent to avoid. But the same could be said of the Croatian world number 52, who beat Agnieszka Radwanska en route to the French Open fourth round.
Johanna Konta v Peng Shuai: The Chinese player has reached six WTA finals, but lost them all. Ranked 60 in the world, she represents a reasonable first-round draw.
Naomi Broady v Timea Babos: Broady is closing in on the top 150 after winning ITF tournaments in Egypt, Uzbekistan and Japan. She concedes 70 places in the rankings to her Hungarian opponent.
Tara Moore v Vera Zvonareva: There may never be a better time to play a former Wimbledon semi-finalist and world number two. Zvonareva has played only four events since London 2012 after shoulder surgery, and her ranking has dropped to 561.
Maria Sharapova v Samantha Murray: This should be a fabulous experience, on a show court, for the world number 242. Best of British, Sam...
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