Australian Open: Andy Murray faces toughest test yet in Feliciano Lopez

Last Updated: 17/01/14 6:02pm

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Feliciano Lopez: Yet to beat Andy Murray

Feliciano Lopez: Yet to beat Andy Murray

Sky Bet

Andy Murray will be full of confidence when he takes on his old pal Feliciano Lopez on Saturday in the third round of the Australian Open.

Murray has played the Spaniard seven times over the years and won the lot, dropping just two sets in the process.

Both men won their first two matches in Melbourne in straight sets, so they will fresh, and Lopez remains a dangerous customer. He is one of the few players on tour as happy at the net as he is at the baseline, but tactically he has few options against Murray.

If he stays on the baseline, Murray will hammer him. So he will have to go for broke, go for the lines, charge the net, take risks - and above all hope the Scot has an off day.

Lopez, now 32, is one of the tour's veterans. He is a leftie, possessing a superb serve - not necessarily the biggest, but he creates great angles, particularly from the left hand side. He has a one-handed backhand, preferring the slice to the drive - think a Spanish Greg Rusedski.

Two shots will be key for Murray - his return of serve and passing shots. Lopez is likely to serve and volley more than most. So the return is important.

When Lopez stays back, and Murray drops his return short, the Spaniard will chip deep and charge the net, challenging the Scot to pass him. It could be a spectacular match to watch between a pair who are good friends off court.

It is fair to say the ladies are appreciative of Lopez - Murray's mum Judy famously calls him 'Deliciano'.

His best results have come on fast courts - cement and grass. He was the last man to beat Tim Henman at Wimbledon back in 2007 and reached the quarter-finals at SW19 twice, his best efforts in a grand slam.

He pushed Murray on a fiercely hot day in the third round of the US Open in 2012, the tournament where the Scot won his first grand slam. Murray won in four sets, winning that fourth set on a tie-break that could have gone either way.

That match was the last they played and Murray will remember it well - it was a tight, tense match and he knows that he cannot take anything for granted when they meet on the Rod Laver Arena on Saturday.

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