REUTERS – World number two Andy Murray will look to get his bid for a maiden Australian Open title off to a solid start when he faces Germany’s Alexander Zverev at the Margaret Court Arena on Tuesday.
The Scot is aiming become the first man in the Open era to win the Australian Open title after losing four finals — the first to Roger Federer in 2010 and the other three to Novak Djokovic in 2011, 2013 and 2015.
Murray did not win a grand slam title in 2015, but ended the year on a high after leading Britain to their first Davis Cup title in 79 years by beating Belgium in the final.
Fifth-seed Rafael Nadal will look to kick-start his own tilt at history against fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco at the Rod Laver Arena.
Nadal will become the first man in the Open era and only the third ever to achieve a career grand slam double if he wins the title. Roy Emerson and Rod Laver and are the only other players to have won each grand slam on two or more occasions.
The last time Nadal and Verdasco met in Melbourne was in the 2009 semi-final, with Nadal beating Verdasco in a marathon match lasting more than five hours. Nadal went on to beat Federer in the final to lift his only Australian Open title.
Venus Williams will hope to join sister Serena in the second round when she takes on Britain’s Johanna Konta, while retiring home favourite Lleyton Hewitt takes centre stage in the evening when he faces countryman James Duckworth.
Women’s 14th seed and twice former champion Victoria Azarenka faces Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck and another former winner, men’s fourth seed Stan Wawrinka, is up against Russia’s Dmitry Tursunov.
(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)