'Unbelievable' Kukushkin concerns Murray
Andy Murray is expecting a tough examination of his Australian Open credentials on Monday when he faces Mikhail Kukushkin for a place in the quarter-finals.
Murray advanced to the last-16 with a comfortable win over Michael Llodra, adding to the belief that he can reach a third consecutive final in Melbourne. The British No. 1 is aiming to secure his maiden grand slam title.
His next obstacle is a man Murray knows well, having played Kukushkin extremely recently. The pair met at the Brisbane International, won by Murray, but only after he came from a set down against the world No. 97 in his opening match.
It took over two hours for the Brit to overcome his rival on that occasion, losing the first four games of the match. And Murray admits he is expecting an equally testing showdown in the rematch on Monday.
"He was very good when I played him in Brisbane this month, the first six games he was unbelievable," Murray said.
"He hardly missed a ball. He was hitting the ball huge, going pretty much down the line on every shot and cleaning lines."
The world No. 4 will take plenty of heart from his latest display against Llodra, which saw him hit 48 winners. The key against Kukushkin could prove to be the Murray backhand, which contributed 19 of those winners in the win over Llodra.
"My movement was way better than the first two matches," Murray said. "I moved great tonight. That's a good sign for me because when I move well the rest of my game goes well. That was the most pleasing thing for me tonight."