Murray wary of leftie Llodra

Brit glides past Roger-Vasselin to set up third-round clash with quicksilver veteran

HE MAY not be a wild card under by strict tennis definitions but Michael Llodra stands out from most professionals on the circuit – and Britain’s Andy Murray admits he will pose a singular threat when they collide tomorrow at the Australian Open.

A flamboyant left-handed doubles specialist, 31-year-old Llodra has enjoyed only modest singles success but represents a highly unpredictable test as Murray continues his latest bid to end the long wait for a first grand slam title.

World No4 Murray was much improved yesterday as he despatched another Frenchman, Edouard Roger-Vasselin, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 to march into round three, but emphasised he would have to step up another gear when he faces Llodra.

“Llodra in the next round is tough, he’s a leftie and has a lot of flair so it’ll be a good match. He’s been a great doubles player and very good at singles for a long time,” said the Scot.

“He’s got a lot of experience and makes it difficult because of the way he plays. You don’t see guys playing like that much nowadays and when you do play against them it normally takes a little while to adjust.

“It’s going to be tough but I have always enjoyed playing guys that come forward in the past.”

Murray showed no sign of difficulties with the way he set about tackling Roger-Vasselin, taking the first set in just 23 minutes. Although the world No101 put up greater resistance in later sets, Murray’s victory had long looked inevitable, marking a distinct improvement on his patchy first-round win over Ryan Harrison.

“I served well today,” he added. “I didn’t give him too many opportunities on my serve, which was important as he played well in the second and third sets. I set the point up with my first serve pretty well and got quite a few short replies off that.”

Defending champion Novak Djokovic thrashed Colombian Santiago Giraldo, meanwhile, and then insisted he had not been trying his hardest. “I am trying to be physically fit and fresh for the upcoming rounds,” said the world No1. “The longer the tournament goes, the tougher it gets.”

Home favourite Lleyton Hewitt progressed after 15th seed Andy Roddick retired hurt, while there were routine wins for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Janko Tipsarevic.

Maria eyes London 2012

FORMER world No1 Maria Sharapova admits she has one eye on London 2012 after taking another step towards a second Australian Open title.

The Russian routed American Jamie Hampton 6-0, 6-1 to reach round three and said: “This year is a big year for me because I’ll be playing in the Olympics, which has been a dream of mine since I was a young girl. Growing up in Russia, tennis wasn’t a big sport back then. It was all about being an Olympian, especially the winter sports.”

Thirteen-time grand slam winner Serena Williams progressed with her 500th career win, while Petra Kvitova, Ana Ivanovic and Vera Zvonareva also advanced.