Andy Murray brushes off personal distractions to advance
Scot sets up quarter-final clash against David Ferrer, while French Open champion Stan Wawrinka stumbles to Milos Raonic
Two nights after his father-in-law was rushed to the hospital from a nearby court, while Andy Murray was playing at the Australian Open, the four-time finalist put personal distractions aside for long enough to beat Bernard Tomic and advance to the quarter-finals.
An agitated Murray yelled and berated himself, and had trouble at times before winning 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) on Monday in a scrappy match against the last Australian in the draw.
“Definitely on the court tonight I was more emotional than normal,” he said. “I was talking to myself after every single point almost from the first point through till the last, which was obviously not ideal.”
Murray’s wife, Kim, is due to have their first baby next month, and Murray has long said he’ll leave the tournament any time if he has to rush back to Britain to be with her. The sudden illness for Kim’s father, Nigel Sears, in Melbourne had the two-time champion again reconsidering whether to stay or go.
“Last few days were very, very tough. A lot of emotions, yeah things sort of changing all of the time in my head,” he said. “It’s been a stressful few days, but I’ll try to rest up the next few days to get ready for the next one.”
Next for Murray will be No 8 David Ferrer, a two-time semi-finalist, who held off No 10-seeded John Isner 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.
In the other match, Milos Raonic persevered with his serve-and-volley game plan and withstood a strong comeback from 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka, advancing to the quarter-finals 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-3.
Wawrinka, the reigning French Open champion, was the only man to beat top-ranked Novak Djokovic in a Grand Slam match last year — the final at Roland Garros — and the last man to beat him at Melbourne Park after 2010.
Raonic lost to Djokovic in the quarterfinals here last year. In 2016, he’ll be facing No 23 Gael Monfils, who reached the last eight in Australia for the first time in 11 trips with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) win over Andrei Kuznetsov.
Monfils delighted the Margaret Court Arena crowd with his acrobatic game, including a full-stretch dive that resulted in him needing an injury timeout for treatment on his right hand.
Before the quarterfinals, Murray said he’d try to relax — which he is finding increasingly more difficult.
Nigel Sears was working in Australia as a coach for Ana Ivanovic when he took ill and needed medical treatment in the stands at Rod Laver Arena on Saturday night. He was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment and stayed overnight, but has been released.
At the time, Murray and Ivanovic, who lost to Madison Keys, were playing on nearby courts.
Raonic’s win was the biggest upset of the day – he’d lost all four previous matches against No 4-ranked Wawrinka.
The big-serving Canadian said he felt fitter, faster and more confident in going to the net more frequently, and all that combined to produce his first win on Melbourne Park’s center court.
“You have these guys, these grand slam champions, guys that have been playing great, and to beat one of them for the first time at a slam, doesn’t matter if that was on Court 15 or whichever court, it has a very concrete sort of message to the work I’m putting in and how I’m going about things,” he said.
Raonic and Wawrinka were both on seven-match winning streaks entering the fourth round, both having won titles leading into the season’s first major. Raonic won in Brisbane, beating Roger Federer in the final, and Wawrinka in Chennai.
Raonic, intent on going to the net as frequently as possible, dominated in the first two sets, but then Wawrinka went on a roll and it appeared he was ready to come back from two sets down to win for a seventh time at a major. But then momentum shifted again, when his attempted passing shot landed long in the sixth game of the fifth, giving up the decisive break.
“It’s not just about a confidence,” Raonic said of his successful strategy, “it’s about an understanding of what I need to do.”