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Raonic faces Muller on day of potential upsets

Reuters

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Milos Raonic needs no reminding about the threat Gilles Muller will pose in their second-round clash at the Australian Open on Thursday, having lost both of their previous encounters.

The pair will meet in the final match of the day session on Margaret Court Arena, with Luxemburger Muller seen as a dangerous floater in the draw having reached a career high of 28 in the rankings and fresh off his first tournament victory in Sydney last week.

"I have struggled with him. I think we have played twice. He beat me twice," the third seeded Canadian said of the 33-year-old left hander who beat him at Wimbledon in 2011 and Valencia in 2012.

"He had a great, phenomenal week last week. I will have to step up and take it to him rather than expect him to give it to me."

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Men's champion Novak Djokovic will also be looking to step up his performance, after he was tested by Fernando Verdasco in the first round, when he faces Uzbek journeyman Denis Istomin on Rod Laver Arena.

Spain's Rafa Nadal should also be wary of 2006 finalist Marcos Baghdatis in the last game on the main showcourt, which follows Serena Williams' tie with Lucie Safarova.

While Williams has won all nine of their previous matches, the Czech caused her problems in the 2015 Roland Garros final, forcing the match into a decider.

Briton Johanna Konta, who opens proceedings on Rod Laver, also will need to be wary of power-hitting Japanese teenager Naomi Osaka.

"I know she plays a big game. She has big shots," the ninth seed said of her 19-year-old opponent.

"I'm definitely prepared to go in for a battle."

(Writing by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

 
 
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