Murray eases into quarter-finals
Andy Murray eased through to his ninth successive grand slam quarter-final with a straightforward victory over fatigued Frenchman Gilles Simon at the Australian Open.
Simon was taken to five gruelling sets by compatriot Gael Monfils in the previous round in a match which drifted into the early hours of Sunday morning and, having battled gamely, tired as the contest went on.
Murray still had to put him away but managed with ease to advance 6-3 6-1 6-3 in one hour and 35 minutes and improve his head-to-head record with the 28-year-old to 10 wins from 11 meetings.
Simon may have been broken in the opening game as he battled some lingering stiffness in his joints but he hit back immediately. As if affronted, Murray broke again for a 2-1 lead as Simon struggled to find any power on serve - his average first serve speed in the opening set was just 100 miles per hour.
Murray was having few troubles on serve, though, and held with ease to make Simon serve to stay in the first set at 3-5. He was unable to do it as Murray broke for a third time to move ahead.
The Scot was happy to rally, moving his opponent round the court, knowing his energy reserves were low. It was to prove a clever tactic as Murray broke at the third attempt for a 2-0 second set lead thanks to another patient build-up followed by a cunning angled cross-court winner.
Murray held for 4-1 and all of a sudden it was starting to look an awfully long way back for 14th seed Simon. The hole got even deeper as a weary forehand on break point extended Murray's advantage before he served it out to move two sets up.
The trainer was called after the fifth game of the third set with Murray leading 3-2 having broken in game three.
Sensing the end was nigh, the third seed was playing a smart game. There was no need for him to go for too much, simply getting the ball in court was sufficient to beat a player now looking desperate to be put out of his misery.
And he got his wish when Murray converted his second match point, blasting a winner down the line.