MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Two nights after his father-in-law was rushed to the hospital, four-time finalist Andy Murray put personal distractions aside for long enough to beat Bernard Tomic and advance to the Australian Open quarterfinals.
An agitated Murray yelled and berated himself, and had trouble at times before winning 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) Monday in a scrappy game against the last Australian in the draw.
“Last few days were very, very tough. A lot of emotions, yeah things sort of changing all of the time in my head,” he 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.”
Next 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, Milos Raonic persevered with his serve-and-volley game plan and withstood a strong comeback from 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka, advancing to the quarterfinals 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-3. French Open champion Wawrinka was the only man to beat top-ranked Novak Djokovic in a Grand Slam match last year — the final at Roland Garros — and the last man to beat him at Melbourne Park after 2010.
Raonic lost to Djokovic in the quarterfinals here last year. In 2016, 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 (7-4) win over Andrei Kuznetsov.
Monfils delighted the Margaret Court Arena crowd with his acrobatic game, including a full-stretch dive that resulted in him needing an injury timeout for treatment on his right hand.
Before the quarterfinals, Murray said he’d try to relax — which may be more difficult than usual considering his wife, Kim, is expecting their first child next month. The two-time major winner said he’d be ready to leave the tournament at any moment if needed in Britain.
Kim’s father, Nigel Sears, was working in Australia as a coach for Ana Ivanovic when he took ill and needed medical treatment in the stands at Rod Laver Arena on Saturday night. He was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment and stayed overnight, but has been released.
Murray and Ivanovic, who lost to Madison Keys, were playing at the same time, Murray on nearby Margaret Court Arena.
Keys was back on court Monday in a fourth-round match against Zhang Shuai. The winner 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.
In earlier matches, 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.
Raonic’s win was the biggest upset of the day — he’d lost all four previous matches against No. 4-ranked Wawrinka.
The big-serving Canadian said he felt fitter, faster and more confident in going to the net more frequently, and all that combined to produce his first win on Melbourne Park’s center court.
“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.
Raonic and Wawrinka were both on seven-match winning streaks entering the fourth round, both having won titles leading into the season’s first major. Raonic won in Brisbane, beating Roger Federer in the final, and Wawrinka in Chennai.
Raonic, intent on going to the net as frequently as possible, dominated in the first two sets, but then Wawrinka went on a roll and it appeared he was ready to come back from two sets down to win for a seventh time at a major. But then momentum shifted again, when his attempted passing shot landed long in the sixth game of the fifth, giving up the decisive break.
“I think it’s what helped me win in Brisbane. It’s what helped me win my first three matches here, is that comfort and confidence,” Raonic said. “It’s not just about a confidence, it’s about an understanding of what I need to do.”