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Andy Murray is ready for big serving Kevin Anderson

By Tom Allnutt

Published 07/09/2015

Big test: Andy Murray expects Kevin Anderson to be tough
Big test: Andy Murray expects Kevin Anderson to be tough

Andy Murray is counting on his powers of return as he prepares to do battle with South African serve-king Kevin Anderson in the US Open last 16.

Anderson rocketed 17 aces past Austrian Dominic Thiem in the third round at Flushing Meadows to climb to the top of the tournament table with 69, and he now plays Murray for a place in the quarter-finals.

Ranked 14th in the world and standing 6ft 8in tall, Anderson has the potential to unsettle the most accomplished opponents as proven by his five-set marathon with Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon, where he had break points in the decider before eventually succumbing.

Murray, however, is one of the game's deadliest returners and boasts an almost faultless record against his big-blasting rivals.

Against the three most prolific acers this year - Ivo Karlovic, John Isner and Anderson - Murray has played 16 matches in his career and won 15.

His only defeat came against Anderson at Montreal in 2011 but he has come out on top in all of their five meetings since, including a straight-sets win in the final at Queen's in June.

"They're always tricky matches," Murray said. "But getting a lot of returns in play is something that throughout most of my career I've been good at.

"Often the big servers, they come into matches used to getting a lot of free points. (If you return well) it changes their mindset a little bit in the way they play the match and play the points.

"That's why I think I've had good success against them in the past, but they're always tough matches because you don't get loads of opportunities normally."

Murray will also hope for some favourable weather, and scheduling, in New York, after emphasising how much happier he felt in the cooler conditions against Thomaz Bellucci, than he had in the sweltering heat of his opening two encounters.

Higher temperatures can favour big-servers, who gain extra potency from the additional bounce, and Murray may be hoping for another late match against Anderson when the heat of the day is reduced.

"It more depends on the humidity," Murray said.

"I feel like in most places, when it's humid, it kind of slows the ball down a little bit. Obviously it's been hot, which speeds the ball up, but the humidity felt like it made the balls bouncier, more bouncy than usual.

"Obviously against a tall guy who serves well, it will be a little bit harder to return the serve when it's like that."

Murray arrives into the second week with more mileage in his legs than he would have liked, following a draining opening test against Nick Kyrgios and a five-set battle with Adrian Mannarino.

"Conditioning-wise, the first couple rounds, it really doesn't get much harder than that," Murray said.

"In the first match I felt like I played some good stuff, as well but I was also playing against two extremely good players."

Serena Williams will meet sister Venus in the US Open quarter-finals after the 21-time major champion beat American Madison Keys in straight sets.

Keys is considered a potential successor to Serena's dominance in the women's game but the 20-year-old came up short in Arthur Ashe Stadium with a 6-3 6-3 defeat.

It means the Williams sisters will clash for the 27th time in the last eight with Venus threatening to end her sibling's pursuit of a first calendar grand slam since 1988.

Belfast Telegraph

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