Murray’s preparation hit by rain

BRITISH No1 Andy Murray’s preparations for next week’s Australian Open have been hampered by heavy rain in Melbourne.

Murray had been hoping to fit in one more practice match, against Croatian Marin Cilic, the man he beat last year in the semi-finals, ahead of the start of the first grand slam event of the new season.

However, rain wiped out Wednesday’s play at the Kooyong Classic, playing havoc with the four-day event and with World No5 Murray’s game against Cilic due to take place after the main matches yesterday, there simply wasn’t enough time to fit the match into the schedule.

Tournament director Colin Stubs said: “Precedence has to go to the matches of players who signed up. Andy didn’t.”

Murray, beaten by Roger Federer in the final 12 months ago, has slipped below Robin Soderling in the world rankings since the start of the year and has been seeded fifth for the Australian Open.

Murray could, therefore, be scheduled to meet any of the top four at the quarter-final stage when the draw is made today.