Australian Open: Andy Murray’s next foe an unknown quantity
It might be tempting to suggest that the gap in talent between Andy Murray and Illya Marchenko is as wide as the distance between their respective birthplaces of Dunblane and Dneprodzerzhinsk, but last year's Australian Open runner-up is taking nothing for granted.
After sweeping aside Karol Beck, who retired with a back injury here yesterday when trailing 6-3, 6-1, 4-2 in their first-round match, Murray dispatched his mother Judy and Dani Vallverdu, his friend and hitting partner, to watch Marchenko, who will be his opponent in the second round tomorrow.
“They will also watch videos of him on the internet and YouTube and pick up as many things as possible,” Murray said.
Judy Murray was making copious notes as 23-year-old Marchenko, from Ukraine, beat Spain's Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo |6-3, 6-4, 6-1. The world No 79 has climbed more than 140 places in the rankings in the past 15 months, but Murray admitted he knows little about him.
About the only time the world number five can recall Marchenko coming across his radar was when the British Davis Cup team — minus their best player — lost to Ukraine in Glasgow two years ago.
Marchenko beat Josh Goodall in a crucial opening rubber as the visiting team won 4-1, a result that helped to relegate Britain to the competition's third tier at the end of the year.
Murray, who parted company with Miles Maclagan last summer and does not have Alex Corretja, his part-time coach, with him here, said: “I talk at length with Dani about all the matches I play. I actually find it a lot easier to communicate with him because I've known him such a long time and he knows me well. I actually find that good.
“There is a little bit more responsibility on my shoulders. Because Dani has never really coached before, I do have to come up with some tactics myself, but that's been the one thing that since I was young I was always quite good at. I've always enjoyed working out how to play opponents.
“I trust him, I trust his judgement. If you talk to him he knows a lot about tennis. He watches loads and plays a lot himself, so it definitely helps having him around and my mum as well.”
Murray added: “It can happen in sport that the people around you are also kind of in it for themselves, whereas right now the people who are with me are right behind me and will do whatever it takes to get me ready in training and preparation, down to the small details. I enjoy it. Everyone is working in the right direction.”
What did Marchenko think of Murray? “We're similar players,” he said. “Of course I know more about him than he knows about me, but I don't think he cares.”
The winner of the Murray-Marchenko match will play Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez or Argentina's Eduardo Schwank. The 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, returning after a lengthy absence with a wrist injury, is a potential fourth-round opponent for Murray.