By Ros Satar, in Melbourne
- Andy Murray  v Illya Marchenko
- Head to Head – 1-0
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Top seed and World No.1 Andy Murray will open his account against Illya Marchenko.
Andy Murray  v Illya Marchenko – H2H: Murray leads 1-0
It will a bit of déjà vu for Andy Murray against Illya Marchenko having faced him here in 2011 on the way to his first defeat at the hands of Novak Djokovic in the first of his four losses so far to him.
He met Marchenko there in the second round, and in his pre-tournament press conference he told reporters: “We played on Margaret Court. I don’t remember too much about that match. I saw him playing a bit at the US Open. He had a good run there a few months ago. Also had a very tight match with Wawrinka there.
“You know, he’s not easy. He fights very hard. He’s got a great attitude. Plays predominantly from the back of the court and moves well. He doesn’t give you too many free points. But, I mean, I’ve only played him once. I’ve never practiced with him. And that match, it was a long time ago.”
Is Murray the fittest and most prepared we have seen him in a long time? It was a long end of the season for the Brit, but of course it paid off as he capitalised on a less than stellar half of year for Novak Djokovic together with an elbow issue that hampered his Asian swing and usually a good point scoring section of the year for the Serbian.
He said: “Doha went well. Played some good stuff, especially at the end of the event. I would have liked [the off-season] to have been a couple weeks longer. But, I made sure I got enough rest. I’ll get hopefully a bit of time in February as well.
“I did some good training over in Miami. There’s a lot of good players over there for practice. It went well.”
We have seen Murray taken to the woodshed by lower-ranked players before – Roland Garros springs to mind, but there is an air of self-belief in the Brit.
He continued: “I obviously feel pretty confident after the way that last season finished. I do love it here. I love the conditions. I have played really well here over the years, and just haven’t managed to obviously get over the final hurdle.”
This ought to be one of those tournaments where the real rollercoasters that his fans experience come later in the cycle.
Prediction: Murray in three sets.
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