Murray overcomes stress, Tomic

Melbourne, January 25

Andy Murray beat Bernard Tomic to reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Monday, easing the stress of a difficult few days after the collapse of his father-in-law.

The British world No 2 downed the 16th-seeded Tomic 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) in two hours, 30 minutes to end home interest in the competition set up a last-eight match with Spanish eighth seed David Ferrer.

It will be the seventh consecutive quarter-final in Melbourne for Murray, who is bidding to finally win the title for the first time after four runner-up finishes.

The victory capped a difficult period for Murray, who rushed to the hospital bedside of his father-in-law Nigel Sears, Ana Ivanovic’s coach, after he collapsed at the tournament on Saturday.

Sears was cleared to leave hospital on Sunday and fly home following tests. Adding to the tension of the moment, Murray’s wife Kim Sears is heavily pregnant and he has pledged to rush home if she goes into labour.

Murray put the medical emergency behind him but it was a scrappy match, as he broke the Australian’s serve six times and dropped his own serve four times.

Murray lost his service twice but broke Tomic’s serve three times on the way to taking the opening set in 47 minutes.

Tomic’s service came under pressure again in the second set with the Scot breaking him in the first and third games while dropping his in the second game. But Murray was more consistent around the court while the Australian missed some opportunities with wayward volleys and poor judgement.

Murray took a firm grip when he claimed the second set with an ace.

Both players traded service breaks early in the final set but Tomic made a number of errors in the deciding tiebreak as Murray coasted home. Tomic has yet to take a set off Murray in four encounters.

In women’s section, two-time champion Victoria Azarenka remained in ominous form on Monday as she surged into an Australian Open quarter-final against Angelique Kerber, as Britain ended a 33-year wait to make the last eight.

Former world No 1 Azarenka proved too strong for Czech Barbora Strycova on Rod Laver Arena, storming through 6-2, 6-4 to set up a last-eight clash with Kerber, who beat fellow German Annika Beck 6-4, 6-0.

Azarenka, the 14th seed who won at Melbourne Park in 2012 and 2013, has a 6-0 record over Kerber, including in the Brisbane International final this month, making her a hot favourite to keep her title run going.

Seventh seed Kerber powered past Beck to reach the quarter-finals for the first time and knows she has a formidable task ahead against a player who has won each of their encounters dating back to 2012.

Zhang booked her place by battling past injured and tearful 15th seed Madison Keys.

She had lost all 14 of her previous Grand Slam matches before this year’s tournament and was mulling retirement, but she has now won four in a row after beating the American 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

It was devastating finale for Keys, last year’s semi-finalist, who needed treatment on her upper left leg which hampered her movement.

She gamely carried on but was clearly in pain, with tears on court.