French Open 2017: Andy Murray to face Andrey Kuznetsov in first round

first_imgWorld number one Andy Murray will play Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov in the French Open first round while fellow Briton Johanna Konta faces Hsieh Su-wei. Murray, 30, is in the same half of the draw as 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka, who he beat in last year’s semi-finals.Second seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic is in the same half as nine-time champion Rafael Nadal.Petra Kvitova, who was stabbed six months ago, returns for the Grand Slam event, which starts in Paris on Sunday.The Czech, twice a Wimbledon winner, suffered serious hand injuries when she was attacked by an intruder in her home.She is seeded 15th thanks to her protected ranking and drawn against American Julia Boserup. Seventh seed Konta, who is chasing a first win at Roland Garros, having lost in round one in the previous two years, is up against the world number 109 from Taiwan.Defending women’s champion Garbine Muguruza opens against 2010 winner Francesca Schiavone and could face a semi-final against world number one Angelique Kerber, who starts against Ekaterina Makarova.Romania’s world number four Simona Halep, who is battling to be fit after tearing ankle ligaments, starts against Slovakia’s Jana Cepelova and is in the same half of the draw as Elina Svitolina, who beat Halep in the Italian Open final last weekend.Spain’s Nadal, 30, has won three titles on clay this season, including a 17-match unbeaten streak that ended in defeat by Dominic Thiem in the Italian Open quarter-finals.Serb Djokovic will play his first tournament with new coach Andre Agassi,having appointed the eight-time Grand Slam champion after losing to German 20-year-old Alexander Zverev in the Italian Open final. Djokovic faces Spain’s Marcel Granollers in round one.British interestKonta is the only British player in the women’s singles after Heather Watson lost 6-0 6-3 to the Netherlands’ Richel Hogenkamp in the third round of qualifying on Friday.The 26-year-old has played Hsieh twice before, with the Briton winning their last match in Vancouver in 2013 and Hsieh winning on grass at Eastbourne in the same year.Last year’s runner-up Murray has won his two previous meetings with world number 85 Kuznetsov – in the third round of the 2014 US Open and again on hard court in Beijing last year.And he told the assembled media in Paris that he feels “much better”, following another bout of sickness earlier this week. The world number one has been struggling with illness and injury so far in 2017, but insisted he is ready to make a real challenge at Roland Garros.”I will be ready, for sure,” said the Briton. “I just wasn’t well for a few days. It happens to lots of players during the year just because of what we do. “We are in the locker rooms with lots of players, lots of sweat, lots of germs, you know, in airplanes all the time. It happens.”I practised for three hours today, and I feel fine.”The other British men in the draw all avoided seeded players. Kyle Edmund, ranked second in Britain and 50 in the world, takes on Portugal’s Gastao Elias, who is 75 places below him.Dan Evans plays Spanish veteran Tommy Robredo, while Aljaz Bedene starts against American Ryan Harrison. ‘Murray is not in the right place’ – analysisFormer British number one Greg RusedskiMurray has played a bit too much tennis. He got shingles, and all of a sudden he was back on antibiotics leading up to French Open. Physically he is not in the right place.When you are not winning matches, your mental side starts to affect you, so it’s a combination of the two areas.  I don’t expect that much from him. I think his focus will probably be on defending his Wimbledon title. It’s going to be a hard one.Halep was the one everyone was looking at as favourite but she has had an ankle injury. If Konta can get her movement on the clay right she has got a shot, the women’s event is wide open.BBC tennis correspondent Russell FullerNadal, Djokovic and Dominic Thiem have all been drawn in the other half, but that does not feel especially relevant to Murray just now.He has lost half of his clay matches so far this year and is seeded to face Juan Martin del Potro in the third round. Nadal has an awkward opening round against Benoit Paire, but otherwise appears to be in a relatively benign quarter.  Konta is also in a reasonable quarter – avoiding Halep, Kerber and defending champion Muguruza – but given her struggles on the clay, and the lack of any obvious favourite, don’t read too much into that.Kerber lost in the first round last year and has a horrible opener against the two time Grand Slam semi-finalist Ekaterina Makarova.last_img

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