By Simon Cambers and Steve Keating
Andy Murray fended off Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5 7-5 6-4 in intense heat at Flushing Meadows on Monday to reach the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open.
The 2012 champion earned his first win over a top-10 player since his Wimbledon triumph last year to set up a clash with world number one Novak Djokovic.
Murray said he hoped Wednesday’s quarter-final between the two would go the same way as both their battle for the Wimbledon title and the 2012 U.S. Open final, which he won.
“It’ll be a tough match,” the Scot said after a two hour, 35-minute battle in humid conditions with temperatures close over 32 degrees Celcius (90 degrees Fahrenheit).
“We’ve had a lot of long ones, normally a lot of rallies, long points. We played a lot of long ones here a couple of years ago and I have great memories of that match.
“It’s going to be very hard but if I play well, I’ll have a chance.”
Eighth seed Murray dominated the first set, taking it thanks to one break in the 12th game.
But the 27-year-old had to come from 4-2 down in the second set to go 2-0 up, smashing a forehand down the line off the Tsonga serve.
Again Murray found himself behind in the third and if ninth seed Tsonga had converted one of three break points at 2-0 he would have faced an uphill task to get back into the set with a double-break against him.
But the Scot raised his game when he needed to and secured his place in the last eight.
“I feel like I’m playing well,” he said. “I’m going to have to play extremely well to win the event or even win the next match.
“A week ago I didn’t feel great at all and a week later I’m in the quarters so a lot can happen.”
Elsewhere, Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka fought off two set points in the pivotal third set on the way to a 7-5 4-6 7-6 6-2 win over Spain’s Tommy Robredo to reach the quarter-finals.
After splitting the first two sets, the third-seeded Swiss trailed 6-4 in the third-set tiebreaker but battled back to win 9-7 and closed out the victory over the Spanish 16th seed in the fourth set.
“It was a really tough battle today. It’s always tough to play against him, he is always fighting,” said Wawrinka, who showed his competitive fire with a dive into the stands during a point in the tight confines of Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Wawrinka will play either big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic, the fifth seed, or 10th-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan in the quarter-finals.
In the women’s draw, Russian Ekaterina Makarova moved into the quarter-finals with a 7-6 6-4 win over seventh seed Eugenie Bouchard as the Canadian, hailed as the future face of women’s tennis, wilted in punishing conditions.
“I was feeling very light headed and dizzy on the court,” said Bouchard, who required on court medical assistance during the match.
“You know, just seeing things a little blurry.
“Feeling well physically on the court is very important to me, so when I don’t feel that … I just generally don’t feel good.”
A tense opening set played under a blazing sun that went to a tie-break and took 50 minutes to decide appeared to drain the 20-year-old Bouchard.
On serve 3-2 in the second, a distressed Bouchard called for a medical time out, trainers rushing onto the baking Louis Armstrong court to rub her arms and legs with bags of ice while checking her blood pressure.
For a moment it seemed Bouchard would not be able to continue as she covered her face with her hands and wept.
“I never want to retire from matches no matter what, I was going to play on for sure,” said Bouchard.
After regaining her composure, Bouchard gathered her resolve and returned to action but was quickly broken.
The battling Canadian, however, refused to throw in the towel, immediately breaking back to get back on serve.
Makarova, however, would step up the pressure and in the end Bouchard simply ran out of steam, the 17th seeded Russian breaking her again at 5-4 and ending the ordeal with a sizzling winner down the line.
Serena Williams meanwhile dealt with her grand slam frustrations this year by trying to appreciate the big picture, and a more relaxed top seed reaped the benefits with a straight-set win into the U.S. Open quarter-finals.
Williams is gunning for her third U.S. Open title in a row but for the moment she saw her 6-3 6-3 Monday victory over Kaia Kanepi as an important hurdle after failing to get past the fourth round in this year’s other grand slams.