By Ian Ransom
Andy Murray avenged his shock loss at last year’s Wimbledon and battled his way into his 16th successive grand slam quarter-final with a 6-4 6-7(5) 6-3 7-5 victory over Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov at the Australian Open on Sunday.
Murray was upset by Dimitrov in the quarter-finals of his Wimbledon title defence and Sunday’s late night thriller helped dim those memories while setting up a last eight clash with Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios.
The Scot saved a set point while serving at 5-2 down in the fourth, roared back to 5-5 and broke Dimitrov to love, prompting the Bulgarian to destroy his racquet under the lights at Rod Laver Arena.
From there, Murray knew he had his man and ran Dimitrov ragged in the final games before also getting lucky with a net cord on match point.
Though the match ebbed and flowed with countless momentum shifts, Murray had the edge in most of the big points and thought his fitness told as the clash wore on.
“In the fourth set, I felt like he was trying to shorten a lot of the points,” Murray said of Dimitrov, who was dragged into a taxing five-set scrap by Marcos Baghdatis in the previous round.
“When he got ahead, he was trying to come forward a lot. Then on my service games he was going for broke a little bit off my serves. So I felt like maybe he was tired.
“So I tried to, towards the end of the set, extend the rallies. And physically I felt completely different to how I felt at the U.S. Open last year or even here last year when I played a long match, especially in cold conditions. It was like night and day.”
Two-time grand slam winner Murray has been impressive at Melbourne Park, where local fans have thrilled at the progress of 19-year-old Kyrgios.
Kyrgios’s five-set win over Andreas Seppi, the Italian who knocked out Roger Federer, electrified Hisense Arena at the same time as Murray’s match.
The Rod Laver Arena crowd roared their approval when news filtered through of the teenager’s win, confusing Murray and Dimitrov for a moment before the penny dropped.
“I would say maybe he’s more confident than I would have been at that age,” Murray said of Kyrgios.
“So he obviously backs himself a lot. When you have the crowd behind you, it obviously helps.”