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Monday 20 November 2017

Djokovic lands Italian starter

TENNIS: World number one Novak Djokovic will kick off his Australian Open title defence with a first-round match against 108th-ranked Italian Paolo Lorenzi.

Second-ranked Rafa Nadal, the 2009 champion, will have to wait until the weekend to find out his first-round opponent after drawing a qualifier.

World number three Roger Federer, whose last grand slam win was at Melbourne Park in 2010, has also drawn a qualifier.

Fourth seed Andy Murray, bidding for a maiden grand slam and to end Britain's long wait for a men's winner in the majors, has drawn 84th-ranked American Ryan Harrison.

Former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro faces 87th-ranked Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in the first round.

Murray, meanwhile, continued his preparation for the Australian Open today with a straight-set victory over David Nalbandian at Kooyong.

The exhibition match, which was not part of the traditional Kooyong International event, provided plenty of entertainment for a good crowd despite the blustery conditions in east Melbourne. Murray, eventually prevailed 6-3 7-6 (10/8).

A tight first set went the way of the Scot when he broke twice from 3-3 although he relinquished the momentum at the start of the second when Nalbandian claimed the Murray serve.



Watchful

The world number four, under the watchful eye of new coach Ivan Lendl, hit back to level it at 4-4 although he did cause a scare when he clutched his knee after the opening point of the 10th game.

There seemed no lasting effect, though, as the set went to a tie- breaker, the start of which saw Murray narrowly fail to chase down a wide ball, prompting him to take a swig from a spectator's beer.

The game could have gone either way with the wind causing both men to serve double faults at crucial times but Murray eventually edged it after Nalbandian thrashed a backhand wide.

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