MELBOURNE PARK, Australia â€“ In an age which players bang away from the baseline, Franceâ€™s Michael Llodra is a man who stands alone â€“ at the net. He remains one of the last pure serve and volley players on the ATP World Tour.
When I asked him about this in a news conference, Llodra replied, â€œI am the last one, no?â€
â€œI learned tennis, I play like this, my idol was (Stephan) Edberg and (Henri) Leconte. For me itâ€™s too difficult to play from the baseline. Itâ€™s boring.â€Â Does he think serve and volley will ever make a comeback:â€I donâ€™t know itâ€™s difficult,â€ said the 6â€™3â€³ Frenchman, â€œbecause now all the surfaces are slow.â€
â€œSo when when you want to play good you have to serve well. And also you have to be good because serve and volley over five sets. Itâ€™s getting difficult to do serve and volleyâ€ says the 31-year-old left hander who reached a career high rank in singles of 21 in September 2011.
On Thursday the 46th-ranked Llodra survived being broken four times in the fifth set to upset the No. 32 seed and new Russian Alex Bogomolov Jr 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 5-7, 6-4.Â â€œI stayed positive and I fight,â€ said Llodra.
Next match-up for Llodra on Saturday will be World No.4 Andy Murray. â€œI have nothing to lose. Everybody is going to think that Murrray is going to destroy me, so weâ€™ll see on the court.â€
â€œNothing change for me when I play my game.â€
The last time Llordra played Murray was back in 2008 at the US Open when Murray won in a fifth-set tiebreak in the second round. â€œItâ€™s tough to play against him, slow fast, he can do whatever he wants. I have to play my game,â€ noted Llodra.
When asked if serve and volley is aÂ good tactic to play against Murray, Llodra quipped,â€thatâ€™s my only option.â€
Murray has a current winning streak against French players at 10 in a row and 37-3 since January of 2008, â€œbut he never beat me in doubles,â€ bragged the Frenchman.
â€œHave to attack and put pressure on him. Heâ€™s good at the baseline, heâ€™s also good at the net.â€
Murray was asked about playing Llodra after his win over Rogerâ€‘Vasselin 6â€‘1, 6â€‘4, 6â€‘4 to advance to the third round on Thursday.Â â€œHeâ€™s got one way of playing, and heâ€™ll keep playing that way up at the net.
â€œHeâ€™s very good at it as well.Â Heâ€™s been a great doubles player, been very good at singles for a long time.Â Heâ€™s got a lot of experience.Â He makes it difficult because of the way he plays.
â€œYou donâ€™t see guys playing like that much nowadays.Â When you do play against them, it normally takes a little while to adjust.
â€œItâ€™s going to be tough.Â But Iâ€™ve always enjoyed playing guys that come forward in the past.Â Hopefully I can play a good match against him.â€
Llodra is also a rarity in the fact that he plays both singles and doubles. Llodra has won five career ATP World Tour singles titles and 22 doubles crowns.Â Â Some days heâ€™s playing both singles and doubles matches within hours ofÂ each other such as he did on Thursday when he played a total of seven sets â€“ five in singles and two in doubles. To do this â€œhave to enjoy being on the court,â€ laughs Llodra. When asked about what is more important to him, singles or doubles he replied â€œboth of them.â€
Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News