Andy Murray a massive favourite to beat Gilles Simon in Melbourne
Last Updated: 21/01/13 7:13am
Gilles Simon: Exhausted after five-set thriller with Gael Monfils
Andy Murray takes on Gilles Simon on Monday as hot favourite to book a place in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.
Murray is yet to drop a set in the tournament this year, whilst Simon has had a very different path to the fourth round.
Simon needed four sets to beat Filippo Volandri in the first round, four more to beat the American Jesse Levine in the second - and five sets to see off French compatriot Gael Monfils in the third round.
Simon edged a four-hour, 43 minute thriller with Monfils 8-6 in the decider, and he suffered physically throughout the match with cramp in his legs and right forearm.
He will be fit - just - to play against Murray, but his efforts so far in the tournament will almost certainly have taken their toll.
Even without Simon's physical state, Murray would be confident of victory. The pair have faced each other 10 times, with the Frenchman winning just once - the first time they met back in 2007.
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Simon, at 28 a relative veteran, has always been one of the most attractive and flamboyant players to watch - typically French in style.
His best shot is his backhand, with which he is capable of creating angles most players can only dream of, and he is dangerous on any surface.
He is frequently involved in long matches, but with his energy levels so low, he may be forced to go for broke against Murray in an effort to keep points short.
That, potentially, spells danger for Murray, and the Scot may have to accept that Simon will hit a lot of winners - but the 14th seed's unforced error count is also likely to be high.
Murray admitted after his third round victory over Ricardas Berankis that he will have to up his game, and he will against Simon, but the third seed should still have way too much for the Frenchman.
The prize is huge: the winner will to face another Frenchman, the unseeded Jeremy Chardy who advanced by beating Andreas Seppi and before that Juan Martin del Potro.
And that, in the second week of a Grand Slam, could hardly be a better draw.