Australian Open: Andy Murray set for Feliciano Lopez test in Melbourne third round
Last Updated: 17/01/14 10:46pm
Andy Murray: Faces Feliciano Lopez in the third round
After two straightforward matches, Andy Murray will face the toughest test of his Australian Open challenge against Feliciano Lopez on Saturday.
Go Soeda and Vincent Millot have been dispatched with relative ease in straight sets by the British No 1, although Murray is not yet firing at 100 per cent after back surgery.
He was guilty of taking his foot off the gas in the third set of both matches, with Murray having to rattle off 23 successive points to finish the job against Millot after being 5-1 down at one stage.
And Murray will know that he can ill-afford to give that sort of opening to Lopez on Hisense Arena, with the Spaniard seeded 26th in Melbourne.
Lopez has also won both his opening matches in three sets, however he has lost all seven of his previous meetings with Murray - five of which have been on hard courts.
Murray also likes his clashes against southpaws, with the 26-year-old on a 13-match winning streak against left-handers.
Victory for Murray will see him face either Stephane Robert or Martin Klizan in round four - with Roger Federer (quarter-finals) and Rafael Nadal (semi-final) on the horizon.
Both Federer and Nadal will be in action on Rod Laver Arena - although against different standards of opponents.
Despite his recent slide to sixth in the world Federer should have too much class for Teymuraz Gabashvili.
The Russian has yet to win an ATP Tour title (compared to the 77 for Federer), while he lost his only encounter against the Swiss at Wimbledon.
Top seed Nadal, though, has a much harder proposition against the 25th-ranked Gael Monfils in the final match of the day.
Monfils, who has previously been as high as seven in the world, has beaten Nadal twice in the past - both times on the hard courts of Doha.
Nadal has won the other nine matches against the Frenchman and ominously he has eased through so far without breaking a sweat.
At least one Frenchman is guaranteed a place in round four, with 10th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga taking on marathon man Gilles Simon, ranked 18th.
Both Simon's matches in the tournament have gone to five sets, with 29-year-old beating Daniel Brands 6-7 6-4 3-6 6-3 16-14 and Marin Cilic 4-6 7-6 6-7 6-1 6-2.
On Margaret Court Arena, 11th seed Milos Raonic will take on 22nd seed Grigor Dmitrov, while 16th-ranked Kei Nishikori will look to avoid an upset against Donald Young.
Victoria Azarenka: Expected to have few problems against Yvonne Meusburger
Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka are the leading lights in action in the women's draw.
Sharapova kicks off the action on Rod Laver Arena against the 25th seed Alize Cornet. Sharapova, ranked three, won the only previous encounter between the two in Stuttgart in 2012.
Azarenka is expected to have few problems against world No 49 Yvonne Meusburger on the same court.
Fellow top 10-ranked players Agnieszka Radwanska, Jelena Jankovic and Caroline Wozniacki are also in action.
Radwanska, the fifth seed, has the toughest match on paper - against the 29th-ranked Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
No 8 seed Jankovic will take on Kurumi Nara, while Wozniacki, seeded 10th, faces world No 38 Garbine Muguruza.
There is an intriguing battle on Margaret Court Arena between Dominika Cibulkova and Carla Suarez Navarro, while Sloane Stephens is up against 19-year-old Elina Svitolina.