• ATP Tour

Murray kicks off 2012 against Kukushkin

ESPN staff
December 31, 2011
Andy Murray has reached the Australian Open final twice © Getty Images

Andy Murray will begin his Australian Open preparations against Mikhail Kukushkin in Brisbane.

The British No. 1, who enjoyed one of his best seasons in 2011, winning five titles and reaching the semi-finals of all four grand slams, meets the world No. 91 at the Brisbane International on Tuesday.

Murray is making his debut at the ATP 250 event, where he will be looking to kick off the year with a victory ahead of the Australian Open, which begins on January 16. Murray will be looking to go one better in Melbourne, having reached the final for the last two years.

The top seed is the overwhelming favourite in Queensland, but former world No. 2 Tommy Haas has warned Murray he will not have things easy.

"It's the beginning of the year and it's really about the person who put a lot of work in December and is fit and is coming here eagerly to win," Haas said. "You've got guys like Marcos Baghdatis who are very dangerous. So you never know. [But] obviously Andy is going to be the favourite."

Haas believes 2012 could be the year Murray breaks his grand slam duck.

"Andy is such a talented player, he's in great physical shape and he reads the game as well as anybody who ever played the game," he said. "This could be his breakthrough year. You feel like he has a chance in every single [slam]."

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