No. 6 Andy Murray needed everything in his arsenal to defeat No. 10 Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-5 in the late match on Sunday at the Australian Open, moving into the quarterfinals against an opponent who will be bringing all of Australia to its collective feet.
Dimitrov looked to be taking Murray to an inevitable fifth set after going up 3-0 in the fourth, but at 5-3 Murray broke back, and in the process broke the will of the Bulgarian. The next three games featured a flurry of errors from Dimitrov, who in the final game looked on in disbelief as a Murray groundstroke clipped the net and dribbled over for a winner on match point to end an extended baseline rally.
Murray in the quarters will meet unseeded Aussie Nick Kyrgios, who achieved something Roger Federer could not at the 2015 Australian Open — beating in-form Italian Andreas Seppi, trailing 0-2 sets down before pulling out a 5-7, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(5), 8-6 win.
“I just had to draw on my experiences of coming back from two sets to love,” said the tour rookie Kyrgios, speaking like a tour veteran. “Paid off in the end. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. When I saw I had finally won the match it was incredible…I think I’m just managing my emotions a bit better out there. I thought I was pretty composed for the whole match. When I needed to get into the crowd, I did that. They were unbelievable tonight. I think they were a massive part of that win. I’m just learning every time I step out on the court when to show emotion, when not to.”
No. 3 Rafa Nadal was a straight-set winner Sunday, rolling over No. 14 Kevin “Mr.” Anderson 7-5, 6-1, 6-4 after a dicey start to set up a meeting with in-form Czech and No. 7 seed Tomas Berdych, who topped Bernard Tomic in straights.
“I try to think point by point,” said Nadal, who fought off five break points in the 10th game of the first set. “I know with Love-40, losing that games with the first set and losing the first set against a player, a very good player like Kevin, he has big serve, and then he’s able to play good from the baseline, pushing you from the first ball. So I know that I going to play with lot of pressure during the rest of the match if I want to have chances to win.”
Berdych, in his eighth consecutive quarterfinal in Oz and facing an opponent who has been shaky in the month of January, is feeling the opportunity against the Spaniard.
“I’m feeling very good,” the Czech said. “It’s been a great, great run so far. I’m just really looking forward to [playing Nadal]. I’m going to have to add something extra again. I’m feeling strong both like physically, mentally. Just looking forward to the match.”
In women’s play Genie Bouchard sputtered, but in the end all four Top 10 players in action on Sunday at the Australian Open moved into the quarterfinals to set up one mouth-watering match-up in particular.
The No. 7-seeded Top 10 rookie Bouchard needed three sets to get past unseeded Romanian Irina Begu 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 — not the best of signs when next on her schedule is a quarterfinal meeting with world No. 2 Maria Sharapova, who was in devastating form in a 6-3, 6-0 overpowering display against No. 21 seed Peng Shuai of China.
“I feel like something, or someone, gave me another chance,” said Sharapova, who faced a match point against her in the second round versus fellow Russian Alexandra Panova. “I don’t think I did anything spectacular, but felt that I was consistent. I served smart at times. I returned quite well — I think that really helped me. I think I won the right points at the right time.”
Bouchard acknowledged she will need more of that if she is going to compete with the former Australian Open-winning Russian.
“It’s disappointing for me because I want to play so well and I want to be perfect. That’s not possible. It happens,” she said. “I think I started being a bit less aggressive, a bit too passive, and that’s not my game at all…I think I’ve progressed a lot since [last playing Sharapova], and, I definitely want to keep playing my game no matter what. Really kind of take it to her, go for my shots.”
Sharapova is now 8-0 in 2015 after winning the Brisbane title.
Also lining up a quarterfinal meeting were No. 3 seed Simona Halep and Australia-inspired and No. 10 seed Ekaterina Makarova.
Halep rolled past in-form Belgian Yanina Wickmayer 6-4, 6-2, while Makarova straight-setted another player looking to attain past levels, topping German Julia “Gorgeous” Goerges 6-3, 6-2.
Wickmayer is No. 80 on the WTA Tour Rankings after almost cracking the Top 10 in 2010, while Goerges is at No. 73 after cracking the Top 15 two years ago.
“I’m so happy that I beat today Julia,” said Makarova, who hasn’t dropped a set yet. “She’s [a] tough opponent. She’s in great shape. I’m so happy that I’m showing my good tennis here and already in the quarters; third time here in Australian Open.”
Halep is also feeling boosted by her run Down Under.
“A lot of confidence I have now because I didn’t lose a set,” Halep said. “I had good matches here in first week, so I’m really happy that I’m in second week now like last year. Here I started to play my best tennis in Grand Slams. So means a lot for me. I really have more confidence now to play the quarterfinals…I believe in my chance next round. So I have to make my game again to be aggressive and to serve well like today.”
Round 4 action will conclude on Monday with matches (11) Dominika Cibulkova vs. Victoria Azarenka, (1) Serena Williams vs. (24) Garbine Muguruza, (9) David Ferrer vs. (5) Kei Nishikori, (18) Venus Williams vs. (6) Agnieszka Radwanska, (1) Novak Djokovic vs. Gilles Muller, (4) Stan Wawrinka vs. Gillermo “G-Lo” Garcia-Lopez, the all-American Madison Keys vs. Madison Brengle, and (12) Feliciano Lopez vs. (8) Milos Raonic.
MONDAY AUSTRALIAN OPEN SCHEDULE
Rod Laver Arena 11:00am Start Time
Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) vs. Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
Serena Williams (USA) vs. Garbine Muguruza (ESP)
Not Before: 2:00pm
David Ferrer (ESP) vs. Kei Nishikori (JPN)
Rod Laver Arena 7:00pm Start Time
Venus Williams (USA) vs. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)
Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Gilles Muller (LUX)
Margaret Court Arena 11:00am Start Time
Todd Woodbridge (AUS) vs. Jonas Bjorkman (SWE)
Mark Woodforde (AUS) Thomas Johansson (SWE)
Not Before: 1:15pm
Stan Wawrinka (SUI) vs. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP)
Madison Keys (USA) vs. Madison Brengle (USA)
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