Rocket rather rule UK than the jun­gle

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - CLASSIFIED -

Andy Mur­ray is us­ing his pro­tected rank­ing of world num­ber two to gain en­try to next month’s Aus­tralian Open.

The 31-year-old Scot has played six events since re­turn­ing from hip surgery in June.

The three-time Grand Slam cham­pion has not played since los­ing to Fer­nando Ver­dasco in the Shen­zhen Open in Septem­ber.

Mur­ray, who is ranked 259th world, can use his pro­tected rank­ing to gain di­rect en­try in up to nine tour­na­ments.

Last year’s semi­fi­nal­ist Kyle Ed­mund and Cameron Nor­rie are also in the Bri­tish con­tin­gent for the men’s sin­gles.

Ser­ena Wil­liams will re­turn to the Mel­bourne event for the first time since win­ning while preg­nant in 2017. The Amer­i­can, who reached the Wim­ble­don and US Open fi­nal this year, is bid­ding to equal Mar­garet Court’s record of 24 Grand Slams.

She is ex­pected to play an ex­hi­bi­tion match in Abu Dhabi at the end of the year be­fore head­ing to Aus­tralia to pre­pare for the event.

Wil­liams’ fi­nal match last sea­son was her US Open fi­nal de­feat by Naomi Osaka, a match that was over­shad­owed by her row with um­pire Car­los Ramos and sub­se­quent complaints of sex­ism.

A car­toon about the in­ci­dent pub­lished in Aus­tralia’s Her­ald Sun was branded racist but de­fended by the news­pa­per.

Aus­tralian Open tour­na­ment di­rec­tor Craig Ti­ley ex­pects Wil­liams to re­ceive a warm wel­come.

He said: “The Aus­tralian fans are very so­phis­ti­cated fans and we hope they have a great ap­proach to wel­com­ing this great cham­pion. “This is a new start. “She’s go­ing to come in as the player who is try­ing to break the all­time grand slam record.

“I think the Aus­tralian fans will ap­pre­ci­ate the success she’s had as an ath­lete.”

Bri­tain’s Katie Boul­ter is mak­ing her de­but in the main draw of the women’s sin­gles.

She will be joined by Jo­hanna Konta and Heather Wat­son.

The Aus­tralian Open takes place from Jan­uary 14 to 27.

SHORT ON GAME-TIME: Andy Mur­ray has not played since los­ing in Septem­ber

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