Andy Murray has not let the occasion of his first Grand Slam as World number one get to him yet, but his fourth round match at the Australian Open won't be easy against Mischa Zverev, who is in the best form of his career so far.
Murray has now reached the fourth round of every Grand Slam he's competed in since the 2011 Australian Open, the only exception being the 2013 French Open he missed with an injury. Zverev will be competing in his first Grand Slam fourth round but he'll be hungry for more in this Australian Open full of high profile upsets.
The players paths so far
Andy Murray started off his Australian Open on Rod Laver Arena with a win over Ilya Marchenko in straight sets, though it was far from straightforward. Murray advanced after a 7-5, 7-6(5), 6-2 win which took 2 hours and 47 minutes in searing heat, where Murray had to come back from a breaks deficit in set two.
The Brit looked more in control in round two - Andrey Rublev which was in the coveted night session slot at Rod Laver Arena. The talented but inexperienced Russian was worked over by the World number one in a 6-3, 6-0, 6-2 comfortable win which was only marred by some worry about Murray after he slipped and rolled his ankle.
Murray shrugged off the concerns and said it was only sore and not serious, and this proved to be true in the third round. He cruised past a difficult opponent in Sam Querrey, as Novak Djokovic found out in the same round at Wimbledon last year. A 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 victory was one where Murray raised his level further and the five time runner up in Melbourne has almost flew under the radar, but he is looking good so far.
Mischa Zverev's Australian Open started with a comfortable straight sets win over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and the 6-3, 7-6, 6-4 win over a similarly ranked opponent showed his good form.
Zverev faced the 19th seed John Isner in round two and was competing well but found himself in a two sets to love down hole after losing two close tiebreak sets. Zverev fought back extremely well to level the match at two sets all and then close out an incredible final set for a 6-7, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6, 9-7 victory in a match that lasted four hours and ten minutes.
Zverev then faced Malek Jaziri in Round 3, with Zverev ranked number 50 and Jaziri 56 at the moment. The German overcame a second set wobble to win 6-1, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 and set up a dream clash with the World number one.
Head to Head
Murray and Zverev have played once before, at the 2015 BMW Munich Open. It was a comfortable 6-2, 6-2 victory for Murray on that occasion, but it'll be hard to read too much into that result looking towards the fourth round match. Firstly, it was played on a hard court, and secondly, also putting into perspective his quick and incredible rise, Zverev was ranked 653 in the world at the time of the meeting, where he is now ranked world number 50 and sure to rise after this career-best run.
As with against most if not all other players on tour, Zverev will be a heavy underdog against the World number one. Murray is accustomed to the big stage, his third match out of the four to be played on Rod Laver Arena this week while it'll be Zverev's first time of his career. Murray's frankly insane court coverage and powerful ground strokes, as well as his improved serving numbers, make him very hard to beat and he has always performed well at Melbourne Park, with more finals at this Grand Slam than any of the others.
Zverev has already proved this week he can shock higher ranked players and has a big game but Andy Murray is the gold standard right now, and it'll be incredibly tough to get past him. Zverev will take heart from six time champion Novak Djokovic's shock exit and the performance of his brother, Alexander Zverev, against Rafael Nadal yesterday.
Prediction - Andy Murray in straight sets