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US Open 2011: Andy Murray draws India’s Somdev Devvarman in first round

After England’s cricketing demolition of India this summer, Andy Murray has drawn another Indian — and a keen Sachin Tendulkar fan — as his first-round opponent at next week’s US Open.


Murray will play Somdev Devvarman, the world No64, as he begins his campaign in New York. A 26-year-old journeyman who has never been beyond the second round of a grand slam tournament, Devvarman will at least hope to put up a better fight than his more celebrated compatriots.

“You get what you get from the draw but it’s going to be very tough,” Devvarman said last night, “because Murray is one of the greatest returners in the game.” Murray’s section of the draw does not appear to offer too much threat until the quarter-finals, when he is likely to encounter either Juan Martin del Potro — the winner here in 2009 — or world No6 Robin Soderling.

It is true that he will probably play his fourth-round match against Stanislas Wawrinka — the Swiss No2 who dumped him out of this tournament in a surprise result last year — but Murray looks in better fettle this summer, especially after he carried off the Cincinnati Masters title last week.

Once again, Rafael Nadal looms large as a potential semi-final opponent.

Murray has landed in Nadal’s half of the draw in all four grand slam tournaments of this year — a statistical quirk, as there is only a 50 per cent chance of the two men coinciding.

On two of those occasions, at the French Open and at Wimbledon, Nadal was victorious. But at the first major tournament of the year, the Australian Open, a limping Nadal lost to David Ferrer at the quarter-final stage, so speeding Murray’s progress to the final.

The women’s tournament features three direct entries by Britons, and if Laura Robson survives qualifying then there will be four British players in the first round for the first time since 1992.

Heather Watson received an eye-catching draw yesterday against Maria Sharapova, the Russian icon who is most people’s second-favourite for the title behind Serena Williams. Anne Keothavong will play Chanelle Scheepers, a South African who is ranked 18 places above her at 82.

Elena Baltacha meets Jamie Hampton, the young American whom she beat in three sets in the first round of the Australian Open in January.

“It could have been a worse draw for sure,” Baltacha said yesterday, “but I know she has the potential to be dangerous and she’s a fighter. This is her home grand slam so she’s going to play well.”

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