Murray and Federer fire up at Melbourne Park

MELBOURNE Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:04pm IST

Andy Murray of Britain hits a return during a practice session at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 13, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Andy Murray of Britain hits a return during a practice session at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 13, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Toby Melville

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Andy Murray's campaign for a second straight grand slam title gets underway on Tuesday when he takes centre stage against Robin Haase in the first round of the Australian Open.

Big things are expected of the 25-year-old Briton in 2013 after he finally shook the grand slam monkey from his back with his U.S. Open triumph in his fifth major final.

The 53rd-ranked Haase is unlikely to be a pushover, however, having taken Murray to five sets at the 2011 U.S. Open and beaten the Scot in their only other match at Rotterdam in 2008.

"He likes playing on big courts," third seed Murray told reporters of the 25-year-old Dutchman, who he will play in the opening match at Rod Laver Arena.

"He tends to come out firing and going for big shots, playing extremely aggressive. So, I'll need to be prepared for that."

Roger Federer also faces a tricky start against world number 46 Benoit Paire of France later in Rod Laver Arena where the second-seeded Swiss's lack of match practice will come under scrutiny.

The Swiss maestro eschewed all warmup tournaments in favour of working on the practice court, but has assured his legion of tennis fans he remains as motivated as ever in his bid for a fifth title at Melbourne Park.

Tuesday is likely to be a tough day for Romanian tennis fans, with two of their players taking on the women's top seed Victoria Azarenka and favourite Serena Williams.

Williams opens her campaign for a third consecutive grand slam title against Edina Gallovits-Hall at Hisense Arena, while defending champion Azarenka meets Monica Niculescu.

(Editing by Patrick Johnston)

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