Murray beats Dimitrov, prepares for Australian challenge
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP):
After the clock ticked past midnight, Andy Murray became aware that it was officially Australia Day, and he already knew from the crowd reaction what to expect in the quarter-finals.
Murray, a two-time Grand Slam champion and three-time Australian Open finalist, fended off racket-smashing Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-5 in a fourth-round match that started Sunday but continued into the early hours of Monday morning, the national holiday that regularly occurs during the Australian Open.
Midway through his match against No. 10-ranked Dimitrov, who beat him in the Wimbledon quarter-finals last year, Murray heard a distinctive roar that started somewhere in the distance and echoed through Rod Laver Arena.
"I heard a lot of noise - I had to ask my box what it was for," he said. It was for 19-year-old Nick Kyrgios, who came back from two sets down and saved a match point to beat Andreas Seppi 5-7, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 8-6 on Hisense Arena - the No. 3 court at Melbourne Park - to become the first Aussie male to reach the last eight at the Australian Open since Lleyton Hewitt in 2005, and the first male teenager since Roger Federer in 2001 to reach two Grand Slam quarter-finals.
Kyrgios has developed quite a reputation for his audacious blend of shots, for his crowd interaction, for his outbursts and for his results: As a wild-entry with a No. 144 ranking at Wimbledon last year, he beat then No. 1-ranked Nadal in the fourth round. That was after he'd saved nine match points and come from two sets down to beat Richard Gasquet in the second round.
As a couple stood to leave Hisense Arena yesterday during the fifth set - one in which Kyrgios let a 4-1 lead slip and then had to save break points - he called out to them: "Hey, where are you going?"
The show, evidently, was not over.
His first words after the win, as the crowd continued to chant and scream like soccer fans: "Thanks, mate. Feels so good.
"It's crazy," he said. "When I saw I had finally won the match, it was incredible - it was the best feeling I ever had. It's just massive confidence."
Murray has a 10-0 winning record against Australian players, but hasn't come across anyone quite as precocious as Kyrgios.
"I would say maybe he's more confident than I would have been at that age ... he obviously backs himself a lot," Murray said. "I'm going to have to play a great match to win against him."
The high-energy night matches overshadowed the day session yesterday, when Nadal continued his comeback from a long-term injury layoff with a 7-5, 6-1, 6-4 win over towering Kevin Anderson to set up a quarter-final against No. 7 Tomas Berdych, who had a 6-2, 7-6 (3), 6-2 win over Bernard Tomic.
No. 2-ranked Maria Sharapova won the last eight games of her 6-3, 6-0 victory over Peng Shuai and will next play seventh-seeded Eugenie Bouchard, who had a see-sawing 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 win over Irina-Camelia Begu. French Open finalist Simona Halep beat Yanina Wickmayer 6-4, 6-2 to set up a quarter-final against No. 10 Ekaterina Makarova, who beat Julia Goerges in straight sets.