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Australian Open: Andy Murray to use protected ranking to play in Melbourne

Andy Murray will use his protected ranking of world number two to gain entry to January's Australian Open.

The Briton, 31, ended his season early to focus on making "big improvements", having played in six events since returning from hip surgery in June.

He will join last year's semi-finalist Kyle Edmund and Cameron Norrie in the field for the men's singles.

Serena Williams will return to Melbourne for the first time since winning while pregnant in 2017.

The American reached the finals of both Wimbledon and the US Open in 2018 and will attempt to equal Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles victories.

Katie Boulter will make her debut in the main draw of the women's singles, with Johanna Konta and Heather Watson the other British players to make the cut.

Three-time Grand Slam champion Murray, now ranked 259th in the world, has not played since losing to Spain's Fernando Verdasco in the Shenzhen Open in September.

His protected ranking affords him direct entry in up to nine tournaments from the point he returned from 11 months out in June.

However, Murray will not be seeded in Melbourne.

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