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Murray ‘likely’ to play Wimbledon after former champ handed Paire test

Andy Murray will face Benoit Paire in the Wimbeldon first round © AFP / Glyn KIRK

London, United Kingdom, Jun 29 – Andy Murray revealed on Friday he is “likely” to compete at Wimbledon after the two-time champion was handed a first-round tie against France’s Benoit Paire.

Murray had left his participation in the grass-court Grand Slam to the last minute as the former world number one makes tentative progress in his return from hip surgery.

The 31-year-old Scot has played just three matches since making his comeback last week after 11 months on the sidelines.

Murray, whose ranking has dropped to 156, had an operation on his right hip in January and only returned to action on June 18 when he was beaten by Nick Kyrgios at Queen’s Club.

The three-time Grand Slam winner saw off Stan Wawrinka at Eastbourne on Monday, but after losing to fellow Briton Kyle Edmund on Wednesday he conceded his fitness was still an issue.

Despite his lack of match practice, Murray has opted to give it a go at his home Grand Slam, where he will play in a best of five sets tournament for the first time since his Wimbledon quarter-final defeat against Sam Querrey 12 months ago.

“I feel all right, not much different to how I felt two days ago really,” Murray said after Friday’s draw.

“I’ll chat to my team this afternoon and also see a bit how the next two days go.

“I’m playing sets and stuff (on Saturday), and then, yeah, but most likely yeah, I’ll play.

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“The thing is I obviously don’t know every single day how things will be. I need to play it a little bit by ear.

“I can’t predict how I’m going to feel in two days. But if I feel like I do today in a couple of days, I’ll be playing.”

Murray, who defeated Paire in straight sets at Wimbledon last year, could still withdraw from the tournament right up until the scheduled start of his clash with the world number 48.

Wimbledon starts on Monday and Murray, who hasn’t publicly announced he is definitely fit enough to play, is due to face the media in a press conference on Saturday.

If he does take part, Murray is scheduled to face former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro in the third round and may have to get past Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals, Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals and Roger Federer in the final.

Defending champion Federer, in his 20th visit to the south London tournament, opens his bid for a ninth Wimbledon crown by facing Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic.

The 36-year-old has potential encounters with Lukas Lacko, Leonardo Mayer and Borna Coric, who beat Federer in the Halle final last weekend, knocking the 20-time major winner off the top of the ATP rankings.

A possible quarter-final against South Africa’s Kevin Anderson lies in wait for Federer, followed by a semi-final clash with newly crowned Queen’s Club champion Marin Cilic, who lost to the Swiss star in last year’s Wimbledon final.

If Federer makes it through those six opponents, he has a potential final date with his old rival Nadal on the 10th anniversary of their epic five-set Wimbledon final won by the Spaniard.

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French Open champion Nadal, who hasn’t won Wimbledon since 2010, will aim to avoid adding to a long list of embarrassing early exits when the world number one takes on Israel’s Dudi Sela in the first round.

Djokovic, who plays American Tennys Sandgren in the first round, could face British number one Edmund in the third round and French Open finalist Dominic Thiem in the last 16.

With his ranking down to 17 after a long spell marred by injuries and poor form, three-time Wimbledon winner Djokovic has already claimed he isn’t a contender for the title.

One of the most eagerly anticipated ties of the first round will see three-time Grand Slam champion Wawrinka, unseeded after his ranking fell following knee surgery, meet sixth-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov.

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