Andy Murray was just too strong in every department as he ousted the last Australian hope Bernard Tomic in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(4) on Rod Laver Arena to reach a 12th successive quarterfinal at the Australian Open.
Heading into the match the second seed led their head to head 3-0, with the last meeting finishing 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 in the Davis Cup Semifinal last September. Murray was not at his best in a testing four set win over Joao Sousa in the last round, but Tomic did not play too well either in his straight sets win over compatriot John Millman.
A Topsy Turvy Opening
Unsurprisingly the Brit got off to a flying start, employing the drop shot early on to good effect, before hitting a blistering forehand return winner to seal the early break. Murray was tested in his opening service break but played the 30 all point and three deuce points very well, finishing the game with an ace.
After the Australian prevailed in a tough second service game he then gained the opportunity to break back after a poor service game from the second seed. Murray hit an ace to save the first break point but was the first to miss in the following 26 stroke rally to hand the break back.
The British number one responded immediately as expected. With another excellent forehand winner skipping off the line to regain the break. Murray then proceeded to take a firm grip on the first set, forcing Tomic into four errors, two off the forehand and two off of the backhand side as the Australian dropped serve to love.
Once again Murray struggled to consolidate on serve down break point. An ace got him out of trouble on the first chance before a backhand winner from the 16th seed gave him another chance. The second seed produced a timely serve and volley to snuff out yet another chance. Tomic was hanging in, saving a first set point after punishing the Brit’s second serve. A third break point opportunity passed him by before he finally converted to reduce his arrears to 5-3 behind. Eight games, five breaks of serve.
Murray Takes Control
Murray was forced to serve for it once again at 5-4, but this time the four time runner up in Melbourne was up to the task, drawing Tomic into the backhand slice error.
It was a strange start to the second set as well. Just as you thought Murray was in control, securing yet another early break courtesy of a nice finish at the net, he handed the break straight back courtesy of a few more uncharacteristic errors. As you might have guessed it did not last long as the Australian threw in another loose service game, dropping it to love.
Tomic Stems The Tide
After consolidating the break, Murray looked to distance himself from his Australian opponent. However the Brit squandered four break points as Tomic secured a confidence boosting hold. This freed him up to hold the rest of his service games in the second set, a stark contrast to the first where he only held twice.
The Brit Breaks Away
Both players continued to hold serve comfortably from there on in, leaving the second seed with the chance to serve for two sets to love lead. Murray took his opportunity well, holding to love and sealing the game with an ace.
Having held four successive service games it was rather surprising to see the Australian’s level dip dramatically. He looked very flat and passive out there as he relinquished serve after a double fault and horribly mistimed forehand.
Bernard Bites Back
Against the run of play Tomic’s game come back to life and he starts to loosen up and play more aggressive groundstrokes. As a result he broke Murray back once again, extracting the errors from the Brit and then held serve to love after a stunning backhand volley pass on the run.
Tomic looked likely a completely different player on serve in this set, getting himself a game away from the third after holding to take a 5-4 lead. Murray had no trouble serving to stay in it, holding to love. Even in the eleventh game the Australian did not reel, surviving five deuces and saving a break point to take a 6-5 lead.
The Second Seed Too Strong
Murray held to take us into a third set tiebreak, the Brit’s first of the tournament. Tomic made too many errors in the opening of the breaker, heading into the change of ends 4-2 down. A 208 KMH ace down the middle took the second seed two points away from victory. The Australian held one of his next two service points before the four time finalist secured it by 7 points to 4.