Magic Murray mauls Frenchman Llodra to cruise into fourth round in Melbourne
Andy Murray said it would be fun and he was not wrong as he romped through to the last sixteen of the Australian Open with some sparkling tennis to dismiss Frenchman Michael Llodra.
Clocking up his 38th win out of 39 versus opponents from across the Channel, Murray produced some dazzling stuff to win 6-4, 6-2, 6-0 in an hour and 49 minutes.
Happy days: Murray celebrates after reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open in Melbourne
This always looked a decent match-up
for him, given his prowess against lefthanders and Gallic players, and
so it proved, but the 24 year-old Scot pulled it off in style.
With Melbourne Heart football team
playing literally across the road, the roars from the two different
stadiums competed with each other as Llodra played a full part in coming
up with many
Marching on: Andy Murray is through to round four of the Australian Open
Head over heels: Murray remains on course for his first grand slam after beating Llodra
Murray’s rolling over of Frenchman
now comes to a temporary halt as his next opponent is Mikahil Kukushkin,
a Russian-born Kazakhstani, who upset fourteenth seed Gael Monfils 6-4
in a fifth set after three hours and 40 minutes of undulating struggle.
Kukushkin nearly beat Murray at
Brisbane earlier this month, but it is a draw the Surrey-based Scot
would settle for in the last sixteen of a Grand Slam as he is still only
ranked 92 in the world.
He will not look beyond that but
looming are Jo Wilfried Tsonga and, most ominously, Novak Djokovic, who
has reached the fourth round for the loss of just ten games.
But you need to play your best game
when it most counts and Murray looks like he is building nicely to that.
He had reason to be pleased with a first serve percentage of 60,
winning a hefty 71 per cent of second serve points a measly count of
eleven unforced errors.
Better luck next time: Murray and Llodra had a chat during their match
'There were a lot of fun rallies out
there and I played well,' said Murray. 'It was a fun tennis match which
isn’t normal at a Grand Slam and I’m glad people seemed to enjoy it.'
Murray knew what he was going to get
from the off with the athletic Llodra playing the only way he knows how,
charging into the net at every opportunity after his big, swinging
serve and diving around the net to try and block his opponent’s drives
off the ground.
It made for splendid viewing but as a
strategy it was unlikely to be enough as the world number four loves
nothing more than a target. Murray forced three break points in the
first game, which went begging, and then broke in the third.
After that came the only awkward
passage of the match as Llodra enjoyed some success slicing deep to his
forehand. A break point needed to be saved at 3-2 and then three more at
4-3. Encouragingly, he got himself out of trouble by producing big
serves when they were needed.
Full stretch: Llodra was forced to work hard against Murray but he could not cope with the Scot
Serving the set out proved tricky
from 40-0 up, though, including a simple missed backhand overhead into
an open court, but finally a backhand down the line sealed it and there
was no looking back after that.
The match was notable for the high
number of ‘tweener’ (through the legs shots) Llodra attempted, mainly
because he was frequently lobbed and needed to scramble back to retrieve
them. Most did not come off, but an exception was when he drilled one
at Murray at set point in the second, which he prodded for a winner
while falling on his backside.
Llodra responded by jokingly throwing
his towel at Murray as he walked by at the changeover, but by then it
was a formality with only one winner. There was also a lighthearted
moment when the British number one hit his opponent at point blank range
by the net, and got a fake headbutt in return. It was the sort of
manoeuvre his new coach Ivan Lendl would definitely have approved of.
The third set raced by in just 23
minutes with Llodra, who after the third game of the second set had tape
applied to his left knee, starting to lark around in the final game as
he knew there was no way back.
There was a big smile from both men
at the net when they shook hands, with the atmosphere spilling over into
a jokey on court interview. Asked what he would be doing for the rest
of the evening teetotal Murray joked 'I’m going to go out and get
Doubtless he would not, but there have been much more serious, gut-wrenching Grand Slam third rounds he has played than this.