x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Andy Murray is easing his way to the final stages

The British player and world No 4 is yet to face a seeded opponent at the Australian Open as he reaches the quarter-finals.

Andy Murray is in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.
Andy Murray is in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

Events could hardly be breaking better for Andy Murray. The world No 4 is in the Australian Open quarter-finals with a minimum of fuss and without playing a seeded opponent.

He gets Kei Nishikori of Japan in the final eight, and the burden of expectations, oddly, seems to be on the No 24 seed because he is the first Japanese male to reach the quarter-finals of a grand slam in 80 years.

Murray, of course, is attempting yet again to become the first British man since 1936 (Fred Perry, US Open) to win a grand slam. He has made three slam finals, including the past two in Melbourne.

Murray has hardly broken a sweat over the first eight days, dismissing Ryan Harrison in four sets, Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Michael Llodra in three, and Mikhail Kukushkin in two-and-change; the Kazakh, ranked No 92, retired yesterday with Murray leading 6-1, 6-1, 1-0.

Kukushkin had done him the favour, however, of eliminating Gael Monfils, and Nishikori beat the No 6 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Murray conceded that Kukushkin's hip injury aided his push for the championship. "It's perfect because you conserve energy," he said of the brief outing. "You can't look at it as a negative; at this stage of the tournament to be off the court in 45 minutes or so isn't bad."

Murray likely would get Novak Djokovicin a semi-final, but if his luck holds, David Ferrer will shock the world No 1. Maybe Murray and British tennis deserve the break, 76 years after Perry.