Magic Murray sets up clash with 'nutty' Frenchman

 

Melbourne Park

It is said that the modern game can be one-dimensional, but Andy Murray could hardly have had more contrasting opponents in his first three matches here at the Australian Open. Having disposed of a racket-throwing American (Ryan Harrison) and an Anglophile Frenchman (Edouard Roger-Vasselin), the world No 4 tomorrow meets Michael Llodra, who in Murray's words is "up there with the most nuts guys on tour".

Ivan Ljubicic would no doubt agree. Ljubicic once opened his locker at the Miami Masters to find a naked Llodra crouching inside. "I'm trying to get positive energy from you," the Frenchman told him. "You're winning a lot of matches this year."

Murray said yesterday: "I've been around [Michael] enough to know that he's nuts. You don't see the half of it. He's like a young kid with so much energy, always making noise, winding people up, slapping you on the back. He's like a younger version of Henri Leconte."

Most importantly for Murray, 31-year-old Llodra is a French left-handed serve-volley specialist, which would probably be the Scot's description of the perfect opponent. Murray's emphatic 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 victory yesterday over Roger-Vasselin, in which he struck the ball with more confidence than he had against Harrison, was his 37th win in 38 matches against French players.

Taking Rafael Nadal out of the equation (the Spaniard having won 13 of their 18 encounters), Murray has lost only three times in 40 matches against left-handers. The only explanation he can give is the fact that as a boy he played so many matches against his left-handed brother, Jamie. "I played with him all the time so I never minded the spin of the serve," Murray said.

Llodra, currently world No 46 in singles and No 5 in doubles, is one of the few players who takes both disciplines equally seriously. Yesterday he beat Alex Bogomolov Jnr in five sets before partnering Nenad Zimonjic to a two-set victory in the doubles. "Of course it's difficult, but you have to enjoy being on the court and when you win it's much better," Llodra said.

Llodra has lost both his previous meetings with Murray, the most recent at the US Open four years ago. "I have nothing to lose – everybody thinks he's going to destroy me," Llodra said. "I have to attack and put pressure on him."

Murray, serving well, made 41 winners and just 19 unforced errors in his victory over Roger-Vasselin, who failed to take his only break point. Enjoying the cooler conditions (at around 25C the temperature was 10 degrees down on the day he played Harrison) and consequently less lively balls, Murray played further up the court, denying Roger-Vasselin time.

The Scot looked more relaxed than he has in the past. "I feel more in control of things," he said. "That's where you need to be focusing most of your energy and not letting things distract you. When it's not going well, like against Harrison, I am able to try and work it out."

Lleyton Hewitt, playing in his 16th and possibly last Australian Open, is through to the third round after Andy Roddick retired with a hamstring injury when trailing by two sets to one. Novak Djokovic beat Santiago Giraldo in straight sets, while the three favourites in the bottom half of the women's draw all progressed. Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova had few problems against Barbora Zahlavova Strycova and Jamie Hampton respectively, but Petra Kvitova was a break down in the deciding set before recovering to beat Carla Suarez Navarro.

37-1

Against French opposition, Andy Murray is ruthless. In 38 matches, he has only tasted defeat once: against Gaël Monfils in 2010 Paris Masters.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Sheeran arrives at the 56th annual Grammy Awards earlier this year
musicYes, that would be Ed Sheeran, according to the BBC
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor