Australian Open 2014: Andy Murray into Australian Open fourth round with straight-sets win over Feliciano Lopez
Saturday 18 January 2014
Andy Murray is through to the fourth round of the Australian Open after brushing aside opponent Feliciano Lopez without dropping a set.
Despite worries about Murray’s fitness after surgery on his back, the victory completed a perfect 8-0 run of wins over the 26th seed.
It was Murray’s first real test in the competition and he passed with flying colours in Melbourne, playing a superb tie-break at the end of a tight first set and then pulling away to win 7-6 (7/2) 6-4 6-2.
The reigning Wimbledon champion will be a hot favourite to reach the quarter-finals, faced with 119th-ranked “lucky loser” Stephane Robert in the next round.
Speaking after the match, he said: “It's been a good start. It was very tricky conditions the first couple of matches with the heat but today was beautiful conditions to play in.
"We get to play in front of full crowd when it's like this so it was a great atmosphere. I don't know why but every time I've come here since I was 18 I've had great support."
Despite his great record against Lopez, Murray had needed almost four hours to see off the Spaniard in their last meeting at the US Open in 2012.
And this time it was not an auspicious start for the fourth seed, who lost four straight points to drop serve in the opening game, but he retrieved the break straight away.
The 40C temperatures had disappeared, much to the relief of most players, but blustery, cool weather was not what necessarily what Murray wanted as he gets his body used to playing five-set matches again.
The Scot had several chances to move a break ahead in the sixth game but Lopez came up with good serves every time.
Murray looked frustrated as Lopez levelled at 5-5, and his mood was not helped when more big serving helped the 32-year-old Spaniard save two set points and force a tie-break.
Big serving helped the 32-year-old Spaniard save two set points and force a tie-break in the first set
But Lopez was hanging on and he was outplayed in the tie-break, Murray stringing together a succession of good, aggressive points.
He brought up four more set points with a forehand winner and clinched it with another forehand that Lopez could not get back.
Murray has an excellent record against left-handers, which he attributes largely to having grown up playing against his brother Jamie.
Aside from Rafael Nadal, who has beaten him 13 times in 18 meetings, Murray has now only failed to win three times against left-handers in 50 matches.
He made the perfect start to the second set with an immediate break of the Lopez serve, the Spaniard seeming to suffer a hangover from losing the opener.
Both men held serve relatively comfortably for the rest of the set, which suited Murray just fine as he took it on his first chance, a HawkEye challenge failing to save Lopez.
Murray had won the first two sets against the Spaniard in New York as well, only to find himself embroiled in a near four-hour battle, but the chances of that happening again were remote, even more so when Lopez dumped the ball into the net to drop his serve again at the start of the third set.
The 32-year-old appeared to have resigned himself to his fate and Murray, who was playing an extremely solid match, broke again to lead 4-1.
That quickly became 5-1 and the Scot clinched victory on his first match point, celebrating with an understated fist pump.
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