British No. 1 Andy Murray continues to prove he is in top form at the Australian Open, as he defeated 26th seed Feliciano Lopez to advance to the fourth round in Melbourne for the sixth consecutive time. He will now face lucky loser Stephane Robert for a spot in the quarter-final stage of the tournament. This marks the first time the two athletes will meet in professional competition.
Murray played a fantastic match, full of impressive shotmaking and unexpected winners, to defeat Spain’s Feliciano Lopez 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-2 in their third-round match on Saturday. Murray hit 6 aces and 29 winners to dispatch of Lopez in just over two hours to bring his head-to-head record to 8-0 against the Spaniard.
The Brit’s serve appeared to be impenetrable throughout the match, as he did not face a break of serve for the entire duration of the match and managed to confidently win his service games in all three sets. The first set ended 7-2 in the tiebreak for Murray, while he was gifted a break of serve in the second set and simply served it out a while later. The third set was much of the same, ending in 28 minutes to send the Scot to the final 16.
“Today was a big step up for me,” said Murray. “Feliciano is a Top 30 player. He’s a tricky opponent to play. I know I have a good record against him, but it doesn’t change the fact he’s not an easy guy to play against. Very different type of opponent to what you normally face. So it was a good test for me, and I did well.”
Murray is looking to become the first player to ever win the Australian Open after losing in the final three times previously. His next encounter is against France’s luck loser Stephane Robert. The world No. 119 had played a fantastic tournament this week, reaching the fourth round having only lost one set in the process. He defeated Martin Klizan 6-0, 7-6(2), 6-4 to reach his career-best stage of the tournament. This is Robert’s fourth Australian Open and his 10th grand slam appearance, having won only four grand slam singles matches in his previous nine.
“Great for him. Good for tennis as well. Klizan was a lucky loser as well, so they both took their opportunity.” Murray said of his next opponent. “He’s played a lot of matches here. He’s played six or seven matches already. He’ll be match tight, that’s for sure.”
This marks the first time these two competitors will meet on the tour, with Roberts certainly never facing anyone of Murray’s calibre before this. The Frenchman is 1-5 against top 10 opponents, with his sole win coming over Tomas Berdych at the 2011 French Open. Roberts has made the best out of his given opportunity this year but will need his best tennis to remain competitive against the two-time Grand Slam winner, Murray. Overcoming the Brit in five sets is a hefty challenge and not one that his is likely to manage.
Prediction: Andy Murray in Straight Sets