By Ros Satar, in Melbourne
- Mischa Zverev def. Andy Murray  7-5 5-7 6-2 6-4
- First time Murray has lost to a player ranked this low was Juan Ignacio Chela in the 2006 Australian open
- Loss put Stan Wawrinka in the driving seat as the new favourite
- Jo-Wilfried Tsonga  def. Dan Evans 6-7(4) 6-2 6-4 6-4
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Not even into the second week and the tournament has lost its top seed Andy Murray, as well as six-time champion Novak Djokovic.
Andy Murray had started positively against the Mischa Zverev who he had known since the juniors. Breaking for a 3-1 lead, things looked as though the day would be routine, but Zverev’s sharpness at the net got him the break back.
The pair would trade breaks again a few games later, but it would be Zverev who got the decisive lead to serve out the first set to love. Murray’s intensity improved in the second set -= he came forward more, finished off points clinically and broke for a 3-0 lead, but again Zverev frustrated him at the net, covering all angles and making those trademark passing shots nigh on impossible for the Brit.
Murray failed to convert on three set points, but finally delivered with a break to love to level the match. But any hopes that the momentum would be with him into the third set went as once more his service game came under the barrage of attacking play from Zverev, breaking Murray twice in succession to take a 2-1 lead.
Really the immediate break at the start of the fourth set sounded the death knell for what surely would have been one of the best chances Murray had to lift the Australian Open title after five defeats in the final.
There were no break point opportunities for the Brit at all in the final set with Zverev rounding out the match, as he continues his best run at a Grand Slam during his injury-blighted career.
Murray was quick into press and said: “It’s the shots he was coming up with when he did come forward. I mean, he came up with some great pickups, you know, reflex volleys especially at the end of the match when it was tight. That was tough because I was hitting some good shots, chasing some good balls down.
“Just wasn’t meant to be. He served very well when he needed to, especially when he was behind in games. Yeah, he deserved to win because, you know, he played great when he was down, and also in the important moments.
“I was kind of behind in the last couple of sets the whole way. But the first two sets, I had chances. I was up a break I think in both of them pretty early. Couldn’t convert my opportunities.”
Zverev had been reduced to tears when he advanced to the fourth round for the first time since 2008, so how would he react to this win, where he will meet the winner of the match between Roger Federer and Kei Nishikori.
“I believed in myself. I believed in my game. I believed that playing serve and volley against him and slicing a lot, trying to destroy his rhythm was going to work, which it did in the end.
“I felt comfortable going, like, three, four sets, even though it wasn’t that hot, but it was still pretty warm. I felt like I could hang in there with him, you know, sometimes rally and come in quickly. I feel like everything just worked out well.”
Dan Evans started well against Tsonga, going toe-to-toe with the 12th seed and edging him in the first set tie-breaker while Murray was toiling away. But by his own admission the first set took its toll as his run came to an end with the Frenchman winning comfortably.
“He was just a bit too strong for me. I played pretty well. I was pretty sore. Yeah, he was so physical today. To win the first set took too much out of me. Long game at the start of the second set. I got broke. It was uphill from there. I fought as hard as I could. Just got to say ‘well done’ to him.”
The sole British survivor in the singles is now Johanna Konta, who plays her fourth round match against Ekaterina Makarova on Monday.
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