Australian Open 2015: Andy Murray marches into fourth round with win over Joao Sousa on same day Roger Federer suffers shock exit

Murray saw off the challenge of Portugal's Joao Sousa with a 6-1 6-1 7-5 victory

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The Independent Online

Andy Murray was given the toughest of draws here at the Australian Open but after three rounds his task is looking much less daunting than it was. While the 27-year-old Scot coasted into the fourth round with his third successive straight-sets victory, beating Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-1, 6-1, 7-5, the defeat of Roger Federer removed one of the biggest threats from his section of the draw.

Federer, who was seeded to meet Murray in the quarter-finals, was beaten 6-4, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6 by Italy’s Andreas Seppi. It ended the world No 2’s run of 14 consecutive appearances in the fourth round and 11 successive runs to the semi-finals. Seppi, the world No 46, had lost all 10 of their previous meetings.

While the 30-year-old Italian will go on to meet the winner of today’s later match between Nick Kyrgios and Malek Jaziri, Murray faces a fourth-round confrontation with Grigor Dimitrov, the man who beat him in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last summer. Dimitrov, the world No 11, made heavy weather of his third-round meeting with Marcos Baghdatis, eventually winning 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 after three and a half hours.

Although Federer won the Brisbane title in his warm-up tournament – and claimed the 1,000th match win of his career in the process – the Swiss had looked below his best in his opening match, when he dropped a set to another Italian, Simone Bolelli.

 

Seppi, who has never played in a Grand Slam quarter-final, deservedly took the first set and served for the second at 5-4 after a horrible mistake by Federer, who left an easy ball which then hit the line. When Federer broke back for 5-5 with a stroke of luck, his shot toppling on to Seppi’s side of the court after hitting the top of the net, it seemed that the tide might have turned, but from 4-5 down in the tie-break the Italian won three points in a row.

Federer made an early break to take the third set before the fourth went to a tie-break. Federer went 5-4 up with a majestic backhand pass winner and had two points on his own serve to take the set, but a missed backhand and an inside-out forehand winner by Seppi took the Italian to match point. He converted it immediately with a forehand winner down the line.

“I just tried to enjoy playing on centre court again,” Seppi said in a courtside interview after the match. “It's not often you get the chance to play on centre court. I just tried to play my best and I did because I was playing Roger. You never feel comfortable playing against Roger, but I was focusing on my service game. I didn't have many chances on his serve.”

Murray, meanwhile, is through to the fourth round here for the seventh year in a row. The emphatic win over Sousa was his 36th at the Australian Open. Of currently active players, only Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have won more matches here.

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Murray will face Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals

The Scot had not dropped a set in his three previous meetings with Sousa and never looked in danger of doing so here. The 25-year-old Portuguese is a good athlete who chases down many shots, but he did not have the weapons to trouble his opponent.

Murray hit the ball beautifully from the back of the court. His thumping forehands and backhands drove Sousa into the corners and denied him time, forcing the world No 55 into errors or into hitting the ball short.

Sousa, who has never gone beyond the third round of a Grand Slam tournament, had a break point in the third game, but from that moment onwards Murray took control. Two breaks of serve helped him take the first set in just 31 minutes and from 1-1 in the second he won five games in a row. Midway through the second set Sousa had treatment for what appeared to be problems with his right knee and hip.

Murray went 4-1 up in the third set, upon which Sousa finally found some form. The Portuguese levelled at 4-4 and saved two match points when he served at 4-5. Two games later, however, he hit a lob beyond the baseline to give Murray victory.

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Kim Sears can barely watch on as Murray battles Sousa

“I was up two sets and 4-1 and Joao came back into it,” Murray said in a courtside interview at the end. “We played some very good points towards the end of the match. He competed very well. He always does. He made it difficult for me at the end. But it was a good match.”

Asked how his body was feeling, Murray said: “Pretty good. I’ve played three quite quick matches, which helps. With each round you expect that the matches will get a bit longer and a little bit tougher on the body. So if you can conserve as much energy as possible that’s always good.”

When it was pointed out to him that he had been runner-up here on three occasions, Murray said: “I’ve lost to some good players in the final. I lost to Roger and to Novak a couple of times. I’ve had some tough losses in the final but I’ve always played some of my best tennis here.”

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Sousa was unable to trouble Murray as he lost in straight sets

Jamie Murray, Andy’s brother, and his Australian partner John Peers reached the third round of the doubles by beating the local pair of Omar Jasika and John-Patrick Smith 6-2, 6-3. Murray and Peers have started the year well, having already won the title in Brisbane.

“I think we both made quite a few improvements in the off-season,” Murray said. “That showed in the way we played in Brisbane as well and in the first two matches here. We’re happy, we’re feeling good about where our games are at and we’re looking forward to the next round.”

Heather Watson and her Russian partner, Alexandra Panova, went out of the women’s doubles, losing 6-0, 6-2 to Alla Kudryavtseva and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

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