Andy Murray Will Answer Tough Challenge from Feliciano Lopez in 3rd Round

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIJanuary 17, 2014

Andy Murray of Britain reacts after winning his second round match against Vincent Millot of France at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014.(AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
Aaron Favila/Associated Press

Andy Murray isn't the biggest story at the 2014 Australian Open just yet, but a win over Feliciano Lopez in the third round will bring him one step closer to taking center stage.

With so much attention being paid to the triple-digit temperatures, and the stellar play of Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams, Murray is flying under the radar.

The fourth-seeded Brit is coming off surgery that kept him out of action the latter part of 2013. Thus far in Melbourne, Murray has advanced through the first two rounds with ease. Lopez is a slightly more well-known player than Murray's first two opponents, Go Soeda and Vincent Millot.

Tertius Pickard/Associated Press

Piers Newberry of said this about Lopez:

"[He] is a classier opponent, however, ranked 27th but the world number 15 just two years ago."

However, Murray has beaten Lopez in all seven of their previous matches, though the last meeting was a tough battle.

The two men clashed at the 2012 U.S. Open and Murray prevailed 7-6(5), 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(4). Murray remembers how well Lopez played in that match. He told Newberry of

"I had a tough match with him at the U.S. Open on the hard courts two years ago where he played well. I think it was 7-6 in the fourth set on a very, very hot day."

It will be another hot day for the players on Saturday, but they are catching a bit of a break by playing in the evening. They won't be at the mercy of the Aussie sun like the players in the day session. Murray's brother, Jamie, suffered a heat stroke during a doubles match earlier in the tournament.

He was a bit bothered by his brother's physical condition during his second-round match against Millot, but he won 23 straight points in the third set to finish his opponent off.

No matter if the match with Lopez is a scorcher or not, Murray owns this matchup. Murray knows he has a strong psychological advantage over his opponent. Though Lopez was able to make Murray play hard in their last battle, he only won one set.

It was just the second set Lopez has ever captured against Murray. Expect another win for Murray in this one as the gap between the two is still vast.

Murray is on a mission, and he's benefiting from having most of the attention being directed elsewhere. After he marches past Lopez for the eighth time, it'll be harder to avoid the spotlight. 


Follow me. Sports are what I do.