herald

Tuesday 19 September 2017

Murray into quarters after rival retires hurt

Andy Murray breezed into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open today after Mikhail Kukushkin retired due to injury in the third set.

Murray, who had toiled against the Kazakh in the Brisbane warm-up tournament, was leading 6-1 6-1 1-0 when Kukushkin said he could not continue due to a hip flexor injury, allowing the Briton to retreat from the scorching heat on Rod Laver Arena.

Murray paid tribute to his new coach, Ivan Lendl, who watched from the stands, saying the eight-time grand slam champion had given him a welcome shot of belief in the lead-up to the year's first grand slam.

"The mental side is huge in tennis, something that I've tried to get better at over the last few years ... I feel more comfortable this year," Murray said after the match.

"I don't know if you know but in the UK we haven't won a grand slam in 100 years!" he quipped with interviewer and former world number one Jim Courier.

"It's something that I've just got to deal with, I've got better at it in the last few years."

World number four Murray, the runner-up at Melbourne Park for the last two years, will next play Japan's Kei Nishikori (pictured).

Nishikori came from a set down to become the first Japanese man to advance to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open in 80 years when he upset French sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 2-6 6-2 6-1 3-6 6-3.

Nishikori, who left Japan as a 13-year-old to train in Florida, is also the first Japanese man to reach a grand slam quarter-final since Shuzo Matsuoka advanced to that stage at Wimbledon in 1995.

The 22-year-old chased down everything the powerful Tsonga was able to throw at him, while the former Australian Open finalist was uncharacteristically tentative, having his serve broken six times while he committed 70 unforced errors.

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