Murray avoids Djokovic fate to reach fourth round
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[January 20, 2017]
By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - With Novak
Djokovic's reign broken, Andy Murray boosted his claim to the
Melbourne Park throne with a comprehensive 6-4 6-2 6-4 win over
American Sam Querrey to reach the fourth round of the Australian
Open on Friday.
Top seed Murray, beaten in four of his five finals in Melbourne by
Djokovic, has become raging favorite after the Serb's stunning
second round exit on Thursday and the Briton lived up to the billing
by trouncing Querrey in a tick under two hours at the Hisense Arena.
Murray was among the many surprised by Djokovic's elimination but
was neither dancing on the Serb's grave nor talking up his own hopes
of a maiden title in Melbourne.
"It doesn't change anything unless I was to potentially reach the
final, because I can't play Novak in the fourth round or in the
third round," Murray told reporters after setting up a clash with
unseeded German Mischa Zverev.
"I don't worry about that, really. Obviously, if you're to get to
the final, then it has an effect. A lot of the times when I've been
in the final here, I've played against him. Had some tough ones."
Djokovic's departure aside, Murray appeared free of another bugbear,
showing no discomfort on the right ankle he twisted in his previous
win against Russian teenager Andrey Rublev.
Although he cruised through the first two sets, the ankle was given
a good work-out in the third by the desperate Querrey who dumped
Djokovic out of Wimbledon at the same stage last year.
Querrey relied on his huge serve to get him out of myriad jams
against Djokovic in that upset but his main weapon misfired for much
of the Murray match on a cool, breezy afternoon.
More renowned for his outstanding returning game, Murray finished
with eight aces to Querrey's five and broke him five times.
The Scot had a pre-game chat with 11-times grand slam champion Rod
Laver and placed a number of sumptuous lobs over the rangy American
that would have impressed the Australian great.
One of them captured the break at 4-4 in the opening stanza, a
marathon game of 14 points, and Murray rode the momentum to a
two-set lead in just over an hour.
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Britain's Andy Murray hits a shot during his Men's singles third
round match against Sam Querrey of the U.S. . REUTERS/Thomas Peter
The last of 14 Americans in the men's draw, Querrey slipped on a
fresh shirt for the third set and the wardrobe change seemed to
He rallied from 2-0 down, winning three straight games and breaking
Murray for the first time to leave the Scot barking his frustration.
But Murray captured the decisive break in the ninth game with two
points that showcased his speed and appetite for gut-busting
Flung back and forth across the court by Querrey, Murray chased down
ball after ball and the flustered American netted the simplest of
volleys to give up break point.
Murray then smacked a passing shot to take his serve and after
blowing a first match point with a double-fault, he made no mistake
with a huge serve on the second.
"I thought I moved much better today than I did in the first two
matches, which is really positive for me," said Murray.
"Each match I think I've improved a little bit. That's a good sign.
Hopefully I keep getting better."
(Editing by John O'Brien/Sudipto Ganguly)
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