Big-serving Milos Raonic next in firing line for Murray

The emerging 'Maple Leaf Missile' offers different challenge for the British No 1

Flushing Meadows

After beating Feliciano Lopez 7-6, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6 in nearly four hours at the US Open on Saturday Andy Murray admitted that playing a big server like the 31-year-old Spaniard could be "mentally tough because you can have games when you're not touching the ball".

Just as a major workout in gruelling heat and humidity should have helped Murray prepare for potentially tougher challenges later in the tournament, so the experience of returning Lopez's thunderbolts could be useful when the Scot meets Milos Raonic, the world No 16, in the fourth round here today.

Lopez's fastest serve was recorded at 136mph (Murray's was 133mph). Raonic reached 143mph in his straight-sets victory over James Blake, which was still well short of the 6ft 5in Canadian's best. In San Jose earlier this year he hit a 155mph serve, which put him third on the all-time list, tied with Andy Roddick and behind only Sam Groth and Ivo Karlovic.

Nevertheless, Murray will know that the 21-year-old is by no means a one-trick pony. Raonic beat him in their only previous meeting in Barcelona earlier this year – on a clay court, which would only have slowed down his serve – and is regarded by most people in tennis as the best of the next generation behind Murray.

"He's obviously playing better and better," Murray said. "He's gaining experience all the time and this is his best year on the tour so far. He's definitely going to be dangerous. He's improved a lot from the back of the court."

Raonic said: "I think if it was an issue of me just being able to serve, a lot of opponents would feel no pressure just blocking the return back in the court. I'm able to create more after the serve. Instead of them just feeling the freedom to block the ball in, they feel they have to do a bit more.

"I'm improving all the time. I'm working on it. It's a big part of the game I focus on, as well as the serve. I know for me to keep improving up the rankings, as a player, as a competitor, I'm going to have to keep improving there as well as my serve."

The serve, nevertheless, is the weapon that makes the "Maple Leaf Missile" particularly dangerous, especially on the fast courts and in the quick conditions here at Flushing Meadows.

"He has a huge serve," Murray said. "He goes for his second serve as well. He can serve some doubles, but also get free points from his second serve, too. It's a similar kind of match to playing [John] Isner. He probably can't hit the spots that [Isner] can because of the height, but is maybe a little bit more solid from the back of the court. It will be tough."

Raonic has won three titles already but has never gone beyond the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament, although this is only his eighth appearance at this level. This year he lost to Lleyton Hewitt in the third round of the Australian Open, to Juan Monaco at the same stage of the French Open and to Sam Querrey in the second round at Wimbledon. In the first round here he was trailing by two sets to one and 3-1 down in the fourth set against Santiago Giraldo.

Murray will be happy that lower temperatures are forecast. His match against Lopez was played in the hottest part of the day under a blazing sun, in 33C heat and high humidity. Until he got a second wind in the final set Murray was struggling. He looked tired and did not move well, stumbling to the floor on at least three occasions. The Scot normally has a post-Wimbledon training block in Miami, to help him to adjust, but that was not possible this summer because of the Olympics.

"It does affect your movement a little bit," Murray said when asked about how he had been affected by the conditions. "The court is so hot. You feel it right through your shoes so your legs get warm. Your feet are pretty sore by the end of it.

"Keeping your focus [can be tough]. Maybe if I had concentrated a little bit better today I could have finished the match in two and a half hours rather than four. But it is hard in those conditions to stay focused for a long time."

Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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.

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living