• Australian Open

Imperious Murray into last 16

ESPN staff
January 18, 2014
Andy Murray will now face 'lucky loser' Stephane Robert in the last 16 © AP

Andy Murray produced his best performance so far this year to defeat Feliciano Lopez 7-6(2) 6-4 6-2 and take his place in the last 16 of the Australian Open.

Murray took just a shade over two-and-a-quarter hours in defeating the No.26 seed, with few signs that his back surgery last year is having any effect on his play, either physically or psychologically.

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Next up for Murray is Stephane Robert of France, who initially failed to qualify for the event only to enter it as a lucky loser when Philipp Kohlschreiber was forced to withdraw with injury on Day One.

The victory over Lopez was the 13th in a row for Murray against left-handers. "Is that what it is, is it?" asked a surprised Murray when told the stat in his on-court interview post-match. "I didn't know that. I grew up playing with my brother - he was a leftie so I got a lot of practice returning leftie serves when I was young.

"I feel comfortable returning the serves, and that helps. But I've not got a very good record against one of the Spanish guys who's left-handed. He's called Nadal or something. But I enjoy playing left-handers normally."

Murray is yet to drop a set in the tournament, although Lopez gave him a stern test in the first set, which went to a tiebreak after Murray failed to take four break points in the sixth game of the set and then two set points at 6-5. However, the tiebreak itself was one-sided and proved a forecast for the remainder of the match.

Lopez dropped serve in his first service game of the second set - and with a double fault to boot - and Murray closed it out 6-4, before again breaking his opponent early in the first service game of the third set.

With hopes of winning a match against Murray for the first time a forlorn hope, Lopez was broken again as Murray established a 5-1 lead, and served out comfortably to clinch it 6-2.

Robert's surprise run continued as he swept aside Martin Klizan of Slovakia 6-0 7-6(2) 6-4 in just an hour and 45 minutes. Lucky to even be in the tournament, he will face Murray with little to lose and everything to gain.

In the doubles, Ross Hutchins' dream comeback was brought to a halt when he and partner Colin Fleming lost in the second round to Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi.

In the first round, Hutchins recorded his first win since recovering from cancer, and looked set to continue into the latter stages of the tournament after he and Fleming took the first set.

Fleming and Hutchins then went a break up in the deciding set after they lost the second, but their opponents went on to win 4-6 6-3 6-2.

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