Murray learns path to US Open final

BRITAIN’S Andy Murray will begin the defence of his US Open title against France’s Michael Llodra next week and his place in the same half of the draw as world No1 Novak Djokovic could mean the big hitting duo meet in the semi-final at Flushing Meadows.

The Wimbledon champion, however, cannot play No2 seed Rafael Nadal or five-time US Open winner Roger Federer, seeded seventh, until the final.

Nadal and Federer, despite having won six US Open titles between them, have never met on the New York City hard courts, but that mouthwatering tie could come as early as the quarter-final this year.

Murray has beaten 33-year-old Llodra, a three-time grand slam doubles champion, in each of their three previous meetings, including the US Open first round in 2008 and most recently at last year’s Australian Open, where Murray reached the semi-finals, in straight sets.

Meanwhile, in the women’s singles draw, British No1 Laura Robson will play Spain’s Lourdes Dominguez Lino, the world No53, in round one.

Unseeded Heather Watson is in the opposite half of the draw and takes on world No23 Simona Halep of Romania.

Defending champion Serena Williams will play Francesca Schiavone of Italy, while No3 seed Maria Sharapova was forced to pull out of the tournament earlier this week with a shoulder injury.