x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Murray to face Kendrick in Wimbledon opener

The world No 3 will face America's Robert Kendrick in the opening round at SW19.

Britain's Andy Murray stretches for a backhand shot against Mardy Fish of the US during the quarter-final match at The AEGON Championships tennis tournament, at Queen's Club, in west London on June 12 2009. Murray won the match 7-5, 6-3.
Britain's Andy Murray stretches for a backhand shot against Mardy Fish of the US during the quarter-final match at The AEGON Championships tennis tournament, at Queen's Club, in west London on June 12 2009. Murray won the match 7-5, 6-3.

World No 3 Andy Murray will face America's Robert Kendrick in the opening round of Wimbledon, which starts on Monday. The 22-year-old was paired in the same half of the draw as top seed Rafael Nadal, who faces Arnaud Clement of France. Nadal, who is to make a final decision on whether to defend his SW19 title this afternoon, could face Lleyton Hewitt in the second round and Murray in the semi-finals. The top seed is still struggling with tendinitis in his knees and lost to Hewitt in an exhibition match at the Hurlingham Club in Fulham yesterday. Clement, who reached the quarter-finals last year, will be a difficult first-round opponent for the reigning champion.

The draw also opens up the chance for Murray to make it all the way to the final. His first-round opponent is ranked 76th in the world and has never been beyond the second round. Murray, who is seeded third, has won all three previous meetings with serve-volleyer Kendrick, who led Nadal by two sets to love in the second round at Wimbledon in 2006 before losing in five. Second seed Roger Federer will take on China's Yen-Hsun Lu in the first round and has an easier-looking run towards the final than Nadal. The Swiss could face Swede Robin Soderling in the fourth round and Spain's Fernando Verdasco in the quarter-finals.

Andy Roddick, who is featured in the top half of the draw, could meet Nadal in the quarter-finals if both players progress as anticipated. Other British participants in the men's singles found themselves with difficult opening games. Josh Goodall was paired against 29-year-old Michael Llodra of France while Jamie Ward will be up against seventh seed Verdasco. Dan Evans faces 12th seed Nikolay Davydenko of Russia and Alex Bogdanovic is up against Czech Tomas Berdych, who is seeded 21st. In the women's singles, Venus Williams was placed in the same half of the draw as top seed Dinara Safina and therefore cannot meet her sister Serena until the final.

The defending women's champion Venus will play Switzerland's Stefanie Voegele in the first round, while 15-year-old British wild card Laura Robson, last year's junior champion, takes on Daniela Hantuchova. Serena will begin her campaign against qualifier Neuza Silva while British No 1 Anne Keothavong will face Austria's Patricia Mayr. French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova will play Akiko Morigami and Maria Sharapova, the 24th seed, should reach the second round at the expense of qualifier Viktoriya Kutuzova. Jelena Jankovic meets Julia Goerges while seventh seed Vera Zvonareva will take on Briton Georgie Stoop. Among the other British women, Mel South plays Mathilde Johansson, Katie O'Brien was paired against Iveta Benesova and Elena Baltacha will meet Alona Bondarenko. * PA Sport