Andy Murray has been handed a first-round match-up with British No 4 Aljaz Bedene as he begins the defence of his Aegon Championship title at Queen’s.
The world number one claimed a record-extending fifth title in the event last year, beating Milos Raonic in the final and Murray will hope the omens are good again as he beat Bedene in the second round in 2016 in their only previous career meeting.
Another Brit could feature for the Scot in the second round with 21-year-old Cameron Norrie facing 2010 champion Sam Querrey in the first round but Murray’s initial focus will be Slovakia-born Bedene.
The 27-year-old has enjoyed an impressive year so far winning three Challenger titles and reaching an ATP 250 final but is more at home on clay and has limited success on grass throughout his career.
Murray’s preparations for Wimbledon were boosted by a return to form and fitness at the French Open where he reached the last four and he will hope a return to the lawns of west London set him up for a run at a third Wimbledon crown.
Murray’s route to the final could see him face world No 11 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the last eight and world No 7 Marin Cilic in the semi-final, although Australian Nick Kyrgios lurks as a danger in the top half.
Despite the withdrawal of world no 2 and French Open champions Rafael Nadal, a strong line-up has assembled in London for the event with four of the world’s top 10 in action including Stan Wawrinka, Raonic and 2012 champion Cilic.
Roland Garros runner-up Wawrinka is seeded second, so Murray’s prospective final opponent, but has been handed a tough opener against Feliciano Lopez who is a three-time Wimbledon quarter-finalists and 2014 Queen’s runner-up.
Raonic, Tomas Berdych and Grigor Dimitrov are also in the bottom half of the draw where Britain’s No 2 Kyle Edmund has been handed an opener against a qualifier.
The 22-year-old reached the quarter-final at Queen’s last year where he took a set of Murray before going down in three, while wild card James Ward will also face a qualifier before a possible date with 2014 Queen’s champion Dimitrov in the second round.
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