London: Andy Murray is likely to have to overcome the might of defending champion Rafael Nadal if he is to achieve his dream of ending Britain’s long wait for a men’s Wimbledon crown.
The fourth-seeded Scot found himself in Nadal’s side of the draw here Friday as the line-up for the opening round of the men’s singles was confirmed by organisers at Wimbledon.
Second seed Novak Djokovic and six-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer, seeded three, are on course to meet in the semi-finals after being placed in the opposite side of the draw.
Murray opens against Spanish world number 56 Daniel Gimeno-Traver while Nadal faces American Michael Russell.
Federer opens against Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan while Djokovic faces France’s Jeremy Chardy.
However most interest from Friday’s draw surrounded the rematch between American John Isner and France’s Nicolas Mahut in a repeat of their marathon 183-game epic at last year’s championships.
Isner and Mahut slogged their way into the record books last year when their first round duel became the longest match in tennis history, a gruelling 11-hour and five-minute game over three days.
When it was over, Isner had clinched a 6-4 3-6 6-7 (7/9) 7-6 (7/3) 70-68 first-round victory.
Twelve months later and the two journeymen are set to do it all over again when Wimbledon gets under way next week.
Isner is adamant that the records set in last year’s match will never be broken. “It won’t happen again,” he said recently. “Not even come close.”
Meanwhile, since last year’s duel Isner and Mahut have become firm friends.
“Honestly, before Wimbledon, we’d never said one word to each other,” Isner said of Mahut. “Now we text each other quite often and I’ve got to know that he’s a really class act and a really good guy.”
In the women’s side of the draw, returning sisters Venus and Serena Williams were kept apart, raising the possibility of a fifth all-Williams final.
The top three women seeds are Caroline Wozniacki, Vera Zvonareva and Li Na, from China, who became the first Asian player to win a grand slam at this month’s French Open.
Wozniacki opens against Aranxta Parra Satonja from Spain, while Li, who she could meet in the semi-finals, begins against Russia’s Alla Kudryavtseva.
Second seed Zvonareva starts against Alison Riske of the United States.