By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Serbian world number one Novak Djokovic gave Andy Murray a reality check in the lead up to next week's Australian Open, dominating the Briton 6-1 4-1 in a practice match at Melbourne Park on Thursday.
Murray has struggled to regain form since undergoing hip surgery last January, and was quickly dismantled by the six-times Australian Open champion at Margaret Court Arena before the players called time on their match after less than an hour.
Djokovic heads into the tournament as favourite to win a record seventh title and his third Grand Slam in a row, while five-times runner-up Murray, now ranked 230th, will have far lower expectations at the event starting on Monday.
The 31-year-old three-times major champion returned to action last June but the former world number one cut short a deflating season in September.
The Scot did enjoy a winning start to his season with a victory over local player James Duckworth at the Brisbane International on Jan. 1 but was well beaten by Russian fourth seed Daniil Medvedev in the next round.
Murray is playing in Australia under his protected ranking of world number two, which is used to help players who have suffered long-term injuries, but the lack of a seeding leaves him exposed to the prospect of a tough early draw.
(Editing by John O'Brien)