Top seed Andy Murray has drawn a difficult first-round match at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships as he looks to successfully defend his Tokyo crown.
The World No. 3, who is playing his first event since lifting his first major trophy at the US Open over Novak Djokovic, will face off against Gael Monfils in his opener. Monfils will contest his third tournament since returning from a right knee injury in Metz. Murray holds a 3-2 edge in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, but Monfils won their latest encounter in the quarter-finals of the BNP Paribas Masters two years ago in Paris.
The seeded player in Murray’s section is No. 7 seed Stanislas Wawrinka. The Swiss plays wild card Hiroki Moriya. The 21 year old, who participated in the draw ceremony on Saturday, is bidding to win his first ATP World Tour match. Moriya is ranked a career-high No. 204 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings.
In the second quarter, ninth-ranked Janko Tipsarevic, the third seed, will battle World No. 19 Gilles Simon in an intriguing first-round clash. Simon beat Tipsarevic in the semi-finals of the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur on Saturday. Sixth seed Milos Raonic is also in Tipsarevic’s section and will take on Radek Stepanek .
The third quarter of the draw is led by No. 4 seed Juan Monaco, who will play a qualifier yet-to-be determined. Fifth seed Nicolas Almagro will face wild card Tatsuma Ito, while Bernard Tomic and Marcos Baghdatis will both open their campaigns against qualifiers.
At the bottom of the draw is World No. 6 Tomas Berdych, the second seed. The Czech recently led his country through to the Davis Cup Final against Argentina and will face Frenchman Benoit Paire in the first round. In the most anticipated first-round matchup for home fans, eighth seed Kei Nishikori has drawn countryman Go Soeda in a meeting featuring Japan’s top two ranked singles playershttp://en.rakutenopen.com/News/Tennis/2012/Tournament/Tokyo-Saturday-Draw-Preview.aspx