Murray through to quarter-finals
4 Andy Murray remained alive in the Australian Open even if his racquet didn’t survive his fourth-round encounter with wily Frenchman Stephane Robert.
Murray uncharacteristically smashed his racquet in frustration after he let slip the chance to wrap up the match in three straight sets.
He made no mistake in the fourth against the 119th-ranked Robert, winning 6-1 6-2 6-7 (8-6) 6-2.
For the first two sets Murray was a class above Robert but he was pushed into a fourth by the bold 33-year-old.
Despite the stutter, the 2013 Wimbledon champion was satisfied with the performance.
“I dominated 95 per cent of the match and for 15 minutes I didn’t close the match out,” Murray said
“I was one point away from it being a great performance.
“He’s a tricky guy to play against and the whole match was tricky and tough mentally.”
Murray raced through the first set in just 25 minutes and the second was completed in similar style as Murray showed he had regained his touch after major back surgery in September.
He had control of the third set after breaking Robert in the sixth game but let slip a match point and then his unfancied opponent back into the match, levelling at 5-5.
Robert led 3-0 in the tiebreak but Murray steamed back and had two match points that he was unable to convert.
The Frenchman made no mistake with his set point, resulting in Murray smashing his racquet in frustration.
“Sometimes it’s necessary,” he said.
“I’d put a lot of work into that third set and maybe lost concentration when I served for it but then in the tiebreaker I just missed a couple of shots so losing that set was frustrating.”
The 26-year-old used his disappointment to spur him on in the fourth, never troubled as he wrapped up the win.
It was still a great result for Robert, who was beaten in qualifying but then got a start following an injury withdrawal and became the first lucky loser ever to reach the fourth round at Melbourne Park.
It was Murray’s third successive win over a player from outside the world top 100.
He said it was difficult to judge how that had prepared him for the pointy end of the campaign.
“To be honest, I really don’t know if I’ve been adequately tested,” he said.
He will be on Wednesday, though, with the three-time runner-up to face Roger Federer in the quarter-finals after the four-time champion put Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to the sword in the late match.
“If I play like I did for the first two-and-a-half sets today, I will give myself every chance to win the match,” Murray said.