Big-serving Isner will be tall order for Murray

Briton faces first tough test against world No 29 after three rounds of plain sailing

At 6ft 3in there are not many players that Andy Murray looks up to. Tomorrow, however, the world No 4 faces another opponent from the valley of the tennis giants. Having disposed of the 6ft 8in Kevin Anderson earlier this week, Murray now faces all 6ft 9in of John Isner in the fourth round of the Australian Open.

Isner, who knocked Andy Roddick out of last year's US Open and is unbeaten this year after winning his first title in Auckland a fortnight ago, will present a formidable test. Of current players only Ivo Karlovic, at 6ft 10in, is taller than the 24-year-old American, who wears size 15 shoes.

Murray considers Isner's serve one of the best in the game. "He's a difficult guy to play against," Murray said. "He's the guy that everyone talks about all the time. You don't want Karlovic or Isner next to your name in the draw, because the match is on the other guy's racket. If he serves great and hits some big shots and returns, Isner is a really tough guy to beat. I'm going to have to be on my game.

"I've got a good record against Karlovic, and when I played Kevin Anderson, who's also a big guy, and Sam Querrey, I've always played well. But it does always come down to a few points, so it's really important to be on the ball when you get the chances, because they don't come so often."

While Murray maintained his record of not losing a set this year by beating France's Florent Serra 7-5, 6-1, 6-4 yesterday, Isner reached the last 16 of a Grand Slam tournament for the second time by beating Gaël Monfils, the world No 12, 6-1, 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. This is only Isner's third appearance at a Grand Slam event, the American having played tennis at university before making his bow on the professional tour.

Murray, who is two years younger than Isner, is a comparative veteran, with 16 previous Grand Slam tournaments under his belt. This is the seventh successive Grand Slam event in which he has reached the fourth round, though the world No 4 will be well aware of what happened on the two previous occasions he reached the last 16 here. While there was no shame in losing an epic five-set match to Rafael Nadal in 2007, his defeat to Fernando Verdasco 12 months ago was an unexpected setback, the Scot having started the tournament as one of the favourites.

As in both those previous runs to the fourth round here, Murray has yet to lose a set. Serra, the world No 64, rarely looked capable of denting that record from the moment Murray opened the match with three successive aces. Although Murray played an up-and-down first set, dropping his serve twice, some of his shot-making was breathtaking. In the middle of the match he was all but unplayable, winning 11 out of 12 games.

Nevertheless, Murray has yet to meet a player ranked in the world's top 50 and Isner could prove a major stumbling block, even though the American's fellow students used to call him "Grandpa" at the University of Georgia. "I'm so slow with everything I do," the world No 28 explained. "I don't get much accomplished. Off the tennis court, I just sit around, don't do anything."

On the court, however, Isner can be a fearsome proposition, particularly when serving. He hit 26 aces in beating Monfils, taking his total for the tournament to 81.

Isner said that holding serve and attacking at every opportunity would be his main aims. "Andy's such a really, really good player," he said. "I'm going to have to play really, really well to have a chance. He's one of the fittest guys on tour. He really can do anything. He can play offence. He can play defence. He can mix it up really well." The reward for the winner is likely to be a quarter-final against Nadal, who reached the fourth round by beating Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 6-2, 2-6, 7-5. The defending champion plays Karlovic in the fourth round after the latter won a battle of the Croatian giants by beating Ivan Ljubicic in four sets.

Murray is the only Briton left in singles after Elena Baltacha (right) was beaten 6-1, 6-2 by Dinara Safina, the world No 2. The last time Safina played a Briton in a Grand Slam tournament she beat Anne Keothavong, Baltacha's predecessor as national No 1, 6-0, 6-0. While the Russian constantly had the world No 83 on the back foot with the power of her ground strokes, Baltacha did not look overawed on her first appearance in the Rod Laver Arena.

Baltacha said she would take confidence from her performances here. "I've had a fantastic start to 2010," she said. "I've had 12 matches already in three weeks. I want to build on this now. I want to get back and work on parts of my game and look forward."

Laura Robson, partnering the Australian Sally Peers, won again in the women's doubles, beating Taiwan's Chuang Chia-jung and the Czech Republic's Kveta Peschke 6-3, 6-4.

people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Boris Johnson may be manoeuvring to succeed David Cameron
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionPart of 'best-selling' Demeter scent range
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering