BRITISH No1 Andy Murray is preparing for his first big test at this year’s Australian Open, when he faces rising star Guillermo Garcia-Lopez tomorrow.
Murray set up the clash with a second comfortable win of the tournament, against Ukrainian Illya Marchenko. The Scot hardly broke sweat as he brushed Marchenko aside 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 in less than two hours.
Garcia-Lopez, seeded 32, looks set to provide Murray with a tougher challenge having recently risen to prominence.
The Spaniard claimed his first two tour titles in the past 18 months, and recorded an eye-catching victory over world No1 Rafael Nadal in October’s Thailand Open.
“He’s playing very well just now,” Murray said of the Spaniard. “He’s getting seeded in the slams now. He does everything well and he’s improved his game on the hard court. So it’s going to be a tough match.”
Should Murray defeat Garcia-Lopez he will face either 11th seed Jurgen Melzer or Marcos Baghdatis, the Cypriot who reached the final in 2006, and who yesterday beat 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 to make it into round three.
Elsewhere in the men’s draw, there were straight set wins for top seed Nadal, fifth seed Robin Soderling and seventh seed David Ferrer.
There was a shock in the women’s draw when seventh seed Jelena Jankovic was knocked out by China’s Shuai Peng but Kim Clijsters and Vera Zvonareva both won in straight sets.