Canada’s Auger-Aliassime draws 2-time Olympic champion Andy Murray to start Tokyo tourney

Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime will be at a heavy experience disadvantage when he makes his Olympic debut in Tokyo.

The 20-year-old faces two-time reigning gold medallist Andy Murray of Great Britain in the first round of the tournament as draws for four of five Olympic brackets were revealed on Thursday in Japan. The mixed doubles matchups will be announced next week.

Action on the hard courts of Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo gets underway Saturday in Tokyo.

Auger-Aliassime, of Montreal, beat Murray in their only career matchup, taking a straight-sets decision in the second round of the 2020 U.S. Open.

WATCH | Auger-Aliassime falls in Wimbledon quarters:

Montreal’s Felix Auger-Aliassime fell to Italian Matteo Berrettini 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon. 3:23

But Murray is the first man to win back-to-back Olympic tournaments, having stood atop the podium at his home Games of London 2012 and repeating the achievement four years later in Rio. Hip injuries have marred the 34-year-old’s career since, even forcing him to consider retirement in 2019.

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Murray also competed at the 2008 Beijing Games, where he was upset in the first round.

Auger-Aliassime, ranked 15th, is coming off a run to the Wimbledon quarter-finals which marked his career-best result in a major.

The Canadian’s physical style should prove even more effective on a hard court.

Meanwhile, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic will begin his quest for his first career Olympic gold against No. 138 Hugo Dellien of Bolivia. The Serbian will also contend with No. 5 Alexander Zverev and No. 7 Andrey Rublev in his half of the draw.

Djokovic is attempting to become the first man to complete a Golden Slam by winning all four major tennis tournaments and an Olympic singles gold medal in the same year. Steffi Graf achieved the feat in 1988.

Auger-Aliassime could run into No. 2 Daniil Medvedev and No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas before the final.

Another intriguing first-round match features Kei Nishikori of Japan against Rublev of ROC.

Osaka hopes to make history at home

On the women’s side, home hope Naomi Osaka will face 52nd-ranked Zheng Saisai of China. Osaka is returning to competition after she withdrew from the French Open following the first round to take a mental-health break.

The 23-year-old had previously announced she would accept a fine for skipping media at Roland Garros before backing out entirely.

Osaka holds a 2-1 career edge over Zheng.

The first seeded opponent that Osaka could face is No. 16 Kiki Bertens, who is playing the final tournament of her career. Iga Swiatek, the 2020 French Open champion, is a possible quarter-final opponent for Osaka.

Canada’s Leylah Annie Fernandez, ranked 72nd, will meet No. 46 Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine in her Olympic debut. She would take on world No. 1 Ash Barty, who drew No. 48 Sara Sorribes Tormo, in the fourth round if both make it that far.

In women’s doubles, seventh-seeded Canadian duo Gabriela Dabrowski and Sharon Fichman will take on unseeded Laura Pigossi and Luisa Stefani of Brazil in the opening round.

Half of the top 10 men’s players are not in Tokyo, with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Matteo Berrettini and Canada’s Denis Shapovalov all missing for various reasons.

Serena Williams and Simona Halep are also not playing.

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