A Llodra laughs! But Murray's hoping the joke won't be on him
The nearest Andy Murray comes to the
kind of trash talking he loves in boxing is when he describes Michael
Llodra, his next Australian Open opponent, as 'nuts'.
It is not Murray's style to rev up
his opponents, and in any case, few within the locker room would dissent
from the view that the Frenchman is a somewhat zany character well
known for his pranks.
Focused: Murray now faces Michael Llodra
His old-fashioned style, which sees him constantly charge into the net like so many used to do at Wimbledon, is unusual as well, and Murray now has the chance of pitting himself against that after winning through to the third round with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 victory over another Frenchman, Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
The 24-year-old Scot will be hoping that there are no strange surprises in store, like there sometimes have been for Llodra's unsuspecting colleagues inside the inner sanctum.
'There was a time a couple of years ago in Miami when he squeezed himself inside this small locker belonging to Ivan Ljubicic, and when he came to open it Michael sprung out at him butt-naked, ' recalled Murray.
'He's a strange guy but a nice guy, very funny. He's like a young kid with so much energy, always winding people up, maybe like a younger version of Henri Leconte.'
It was no attempt to recreate the mutual antipathy that often marks the build-up to contests in his favourite other sport: 'It's one of the things I like about boxing, it does make the fights more interesting.
'The difference is that if I was to say something publicly about Roger (Federer) or Rafa (Nadal) I have to sit next to them in the locker room all the time. So it's better just to be respectful, say the right things.'
Relaxed: Murray signs autographs for fans
Llodra, a hugely athletic lefthander who is the world's No 5 doubles player, chose to strike a note of cheerful defiance, saying: 'I think everyone thinks he's going to destroy me, so we'll see on the court. I have nothing to lose. I will just play my game and enjoy it.'
You would have to say that the statistics do not favour him, and not just because his singles ranking is 42 places below the British No 1. Murray's part of the draw is so much the French quarter that he might be in New Orleans, and that is good for him because he has now beaten 38 out of the last 39 Gallic players he has faced.
If the form book stays true his fourth-round opponent would be Gael Monfils, followed by yet another Frenchman, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Murray is also remarkably skilled at facing left-handers, possessing a 46-3 record against them when you strip out his matches against Rafael Nadal.
His only explanation is that he grew up playing against his southpaw brother Jamie. Llodra only just made it through yesterday, needing three-and-a-quarter hours to come from behind in a fifth set to beat 32nd seed Alex Bogomolov Jr 6-4 in the decider. He then went out to play two more sets of doubles and had another round with his partner Nenad Zimonjic today, so he would have an excuse for feeling tired.
But it is far too soon to talk of Murray making another glorious run to the final here, especially as his prospective semi-final opponent Novak Djokovic looks in imperious form. While the world No 4 dropped a set in his first match, Djokovic has gone through his two openers for the loss of just eight games, his best ever start in a Grand Slam.
For a while yesterday it looked like Murray would ape him, as he sped through the first five games for the loss of just six points against Roger-Vasselin, who sounds like he should be playing opposite Catherine Deneuve in some Sixties movie.
Thereafter the Frenchman picked his game up, but Murray was never in danger and landed 68 per cent of first serves, the kind of figure that will always make him extra dangerous as his own returning is so brilliant.