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Murray's Slam hopes hit by Hopman decision

ANDY MURRAY will miss out on a top four seeding at the Australian Open as a result of his decision to start the 2010 season in the Hopman Cup.

The Scot currently has a 245 point lead over Juan Martin Del Potro in the ATP rankings, but the Argentinian has no points to defend in the first week of the season and will overhaul his rival when Murray's Qatar Open pointscome off on January 11.

The draw for the Melbourne showpiece comes before Del Potro's Brisbane points come off a week later and that guarantees that Murray will be outside the top four seeds for the first Slam of the year, a situationthat would require him to beat three of the current top five to take the title if the seedings go to type.

Del Potro was a quarter-finalist in Melbourne 12 months ago and was soundly beaten by Roger Federer in the last eight, but now cannot play the Swiss star until at least the semi-finals.

Spain are a best-priced 1-5 to keep their Davis Cup crown against the Czech Republic in the final that starts on Friday on the indoor clay of Barcelona's Palau Sant Jordi.

The Czechs, who will be represented in the singles by Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych, are 9-2 to prevail.

Rafael Nafal is set to start proceedings for Spain but his opening singles rubbers teammate could well be DavidFerrer rather than Fernando Verdasco.

Read Friday's Racing Post for Adrian Humphries's Davis Cup final preview, prices and statistics package

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