• Australian Open

Murray sets up Federer quarter-final

ESPN staff
January 20, 2014
Andy Murray was all smiles after he saw off Stephane Robert © Getty Images

Andy Murray dropped his first set of the 2014 Australian Open but recovered to reach his fifth straight quarter-final at the season-opening grand slam.

Murray cruised through the first two sets, before once again appearing to take his foot off the gas and allowing Robert back into the match - wasting two match points on his serve in the 10th game of the third set, and two more in the tie-breaker.

But it proved to be merely a blip, as Murray raced through the fourth set to seal a 6-1 6-2 6-7(6) 6-2 victory.

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Three-time Australian Open finalist Murray has faced only one player ranked inside the top 100 - No. 26 Feliciano Lopez, who he beat in the third round - in three of his four matches this tournament.

Robert, the world No. 119, was only in the main draw as a replacement and surprised everyone with a run to the last 16 with what the 33-year-old describes as "casino tennis".

"[Robert] is a fun player to watch, but he's not fun to play against," Murray said. "He's very tricky, very unorthodox. He played all of his shots and made it very tough for me.

"Losing that [third] set was frustrating because it means you're out there another 30, 40 minutes at least. My racquet bit the dust.

"I said at the start of the tournament, I can't honestly say my expectations are as high as if I'd been playing for the last four months. It's been a good effort so far to get to the quarter-finals of a slam this soon after back surgery.

"So I'm happy with that. But I'm not far away from winning the event. Anyone that's in the quarters is close. I just look forward to that match and hopefully I'll play a good one."

Feeling the heat

Rafael Nadal made it through to the second week in Melbourne © Getty Images

Murray was then told that friends from his childhood town of Dunblane, Scotland, had flown over and joined mum Judy in the crowd as surprise guests.

A beaming Murray added: "I don't get to go back to Dunblane very often so it's good to see them. Thanks for coming."

Murray will face Roger Federer in the last eight after the 17-time major champion made light work of the potential stumbling block of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Federer looked back to his brilliant best as he eased past the Frenchman 6-3 7-5 6-4 to equal Jimmy Connors' record of reaching his 41 grand slam quarter-finals. It was also the 11th straight year he has reached the last eight at Melbourne Park.

"I played really well tonight," Federer said. "When you play against Jo-Wilfried you have to bring your best game and I dictated a lot of the pace. I played well in my opening matches and that set me up nicely coming up against a tricky opponent like Jo.

"He makes you play an aggressive game and he's getting better and better. He makes it tough to get aces and I'm happy it worked out tonight."

Murray has won three of the last four against Federer, at London Olympics, Shanghai Masters and last year's Australian Open semi-final - incidentally, the last match between the pair.

The Scot leads the head-to-head 11-9, but Federer is 3-1 up in matches at grand slams.

Federer added: "Andy's done great to reach the quarter-finals so soon after surgery and let's hope his fitness holds out because we always have great matches and I'm really looking forward to it."

On the Federer showdown, Murray added: "It's a big match for me. It's the quarter-finals of a slam. Roger's played great tennis here in the past. It will be a very tough match for me."

Federer was back to his blistering best to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the fourth round © Getty Images
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