From there, three-times grand slam winner Murray enjoys a relatively smooth run to the quarters where fifth seed Kei Nishikori or Roger Federer may await.

Federer, seeded 17th after the longest injury lay-off of his near-20 year career, eases back in to grand slam action against a qualifier.

But the Swiss master’s path to an 18th grand slam title is likely to mean passing a huge third round hurdle against Japan’s Nishikori.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic will launch his bid for a record seventh Australian Open title with a mouth-watering first round match against Fernando Verdasco.

Spaniard Verdasco knocked out compatriot and 14-times grand slam champion Rafa Nadal in the opening round last year at Melbourne Park and had five match points against Djokovic in their recent clash at the Qatar Open.

Should Djokovic advance, the world number two could face a resurgent Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round. The Bulgarian won the Brisbane International last week and is in ominous form.