By Niall Clarke
- Andy Murray faces Joao Sousa in round three of the Australian Open
- Head to head: 6-0
- Winner meets Bernard Tomic or John Millman
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA- Andy Murray will face Joao Sousa in the third round of the Australian Open on Friday.
The British number one has never lost to the Portuguese in their previous six matches, with Sousa only managing to take a single set. That came in their previous meeting at the French Open last year. Murray also defeated his upcoming opponent at this stage in 2015 6-1, 6-1, 7-5.
The world number two has been in excellent form thus far in the tournament, not dropping a single set in two straight forward victories against tricky opponents. Murray, having faced Sam Groth in the previous round, will now face a different stylistic challenge in round three.
Whilst the Aussie has a big serve and likes to attack the net, Sousa is more baseline orientated. The world number 33 does not possess the weapons that Groth had at his disposal, but it will be a more consistent challenge for the second seed.
“This is maybe the third time I played him here.” Murray after his second round victory as reported on Ausopen.com
“We also played at the French last year. He’s almost the opposite to Groth really. Plays predominantly from the back of the court. Very solid from the baseline. Doesn’t obviously serve so big, but makes a lot of returns.
“He’s a very good mover. Good athlete. He wins. He knows how to win matches. He understands the game well and he gets the most out of his game.”
Sousa defeated Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3 6-4 6-3 and followed that up with a 6-3 7-5 3-6 6-1 success against Santiago Giraldo to set up a seventh meeting with Murray.
Ranked at 33 in the world and with two ATP titles to his name, the steadily improving 26 year old is the best player to ever come out of Portugal. However he has never made it past the third round of a grand slam.
Despite the lopsided head to head, Murray recognises that he can not sleep on his third round opponent.
“So, you know, if I play well, I got a good chance obviously.” Murray added.
“But, you know, he’s the sort of player that if your level’s not quite there, he’ll make it very tough for you, as he did when I played him at the French Open. I was in a bit of trouble against him there.”
The winner will face either 16th seed Bernard Tomic or John Millman in the fourth round.
Elsewhere, Stan Wawrinka will be locked in a big hitting battle with Lukas Rosol on Rod Laver Arena. The winner of that will meet the winner of Milos Raonic vs Viktor Troicki.
David Ferrer, fresh off retiring Lleyton Hewitt, will face America’s Steve Johnson on Show court two. Gael Monfils will be looking to continue his fine form against Stephane Robert in what promises to be a fun and entertaining clash of the Frenchmen.
Andy Murray is due on Margaret Court Arena at approximately 7PM local time (8AM GMT) on Friday.
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