Murray advances in Australia


John Pye

AP Sports Writer

MELBOURNE, Australia — In the darker moments, when the medical needs of his family were becoming more urgent, Andy Murray thought about leaving the Australian Open before the fourth round.

The stress was obvious Monday, when an agitated Murray yelled and berated himself repeatedly and had trouble dealing with Bernard Tomic’s unusual style before advancing to the quarterfinals with a scrappy 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (4) win.

“The last few days were very, very tough. A lot of emotions, things sort of changing all of the time in my head,” Murray said. “It’s been a stressful few days, but I’ll try to rest up the next few days to get ready for the next one.”

Murray’s wife, Kim, is due to have their first baby next month and he promised he’d fly back to Britain at any time if she went into labor — even if it meant missing a chance at a drought-breaking fifth Australian final.

The two-time major winner was playing in the third round on Saturday when his father-in-law, Nick Sears, who was in Melbourne as Ana Ivanovic’s coach, needed sudden medical in a nearby stadium. Sears had to be taken from Rod Laver Arena, where he was watching Ivanovic play, to a nearby hospital by ambulance and was admitted overnight.

“I just can’t believe something like that happened a few days ago. It’s shocking,” Murray said. “Nige is an unbelievably fit guy. Very, very scary.”

Murray reported that his father-in-law had been released from the hospital, was feeling OK and was heading home. Murray was staying, for now.

“To be honest, when I woke up I felt quite drained, quite tired,” he said. “As the day went on and I decided to play, I started to focus a little better. Certainly I was trying to just concentrate on the match when I was out there, but, like I said, it’s been a hard, hard few days.”

Next up for Murray will be No. 8 David Ferrer, a two-time semifinalist, who held off No. 10-seeded John Isner 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.

In the other quarter of the draw, Milos Raonic persevered with his serve-and-volley game plan and withstood a strong comeback from 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka for a 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-3 win.

Wawrinka was the only man to beat top-ranked Novak Djokovic in a Grand Slam match last year — the French Open final — and the last man to beat him at Melbourne Park since 2010.

Raonic lost to Djokovic in the quarterfinals here last year. This time, he’ll be facing No. 23 Gael Monfils, who reached the last eight in Australia for the first time in 11 trips with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) win over Andrei Kuznetsov.

Monfils delighted the crowd with his acrobatic game, including a full-stretch dive onto the hard court that resulted in him needing an injury timeout for treatment on his right hand.

On the women’s side, two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka advanced with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Barbora Strycova 6-2, 6-4. A growing favorite for the title in a strong comeback from two injury-interrupted seasons, Azarenka next faces No. 7 Angelique Kerber, who beat fellow German Annika Beck 6-4, 6-0.

Two nights after her dramatic win over Ivanovic, Madison Keys followed her out of the tournament.

Keys needed medical attention on her upper left leg while up a set against Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai, and limped through the end of a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 defeat.

Zhang, who was 0-14 in Grand Slam matches entering this tournament, will play Johanna Konta, who had a 4-6, 6-4, 8-6 win over 2015 semifinalist Ekaterina Makarova and became the first British woman since Jo Durie in 1983 to advance to the quarterfinals in Australia.

Raonic’s win was the biggest upset of the day.

He said he felt fitter, faster and more confident going to the net more frequently, and all that combined to produce his first win in five matches against No. 4-ranked Wawrinka.

“You have these guys, these Grand Slam champions, guys that have been playing great, and to beat one of them for the first time at a Slam, doesn’t matter if that was on Court 15 or whichever court, it has a very concrete sort of message to the work I’m putting in and how I’m going about things,” he said.

John Pye

AP Sports Writer

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