After three hours and 13 minutes of scurrying from one end of the court to another in order to blunt one of the most devastating shotmakers in the game, Andy Murray survived to reach the quarter-finals of the Sydney International by defeating Nikoloz Basilashvili, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (3), 6-3 in a tense, quality battle that ended after midnight.
Despite the tremendous fight required to see out the match, that it took so long was primarily down to Murray’s own timidity when looking to consolidate a lead. Murray served for the first set at 5-3 and then 5-4 in the second, but each time Murray was dragged back into two tie-breaks, which he and the second seed split between them.
The turbulence was also just a feature of Basilashvili’s presence in the match and his ability to catch fire in short bursts and practically render the opponent, no matter their status, a spectator in their own match. But only for short periods.
“He’s hitting the ball consistently bigger than anyone on the tour, he was just taking huge cuts at everything,” said Murray of the world No 23. “I was having to do a lot of defending, a lot of running. My legs stood up well at the end. I served really well in the last set.”
Murray will now face David Goffin in the quarter-finals. The Belgian is a former world No 7 who had spent a long time inside the top 15 until recently but Murray has a perfect 6-0 record against him. “He had a tough year last year. He had a surgery, I think, on his elbow, missed a lot of tennis. He was around 15 in the world for a number of years when the injury came.”
It will also tell a lot about the state of Murray’s body and hip as he is scheduled to compete in the day on Thursday rather than resting. He is looking to reach his first ATP semi-final since 2018.
Earlier in the week, he spoke of how important it is for him to start making instant strides forward and finding good results, and he has already put himself in position to take further steps forward.
Meanwhile, Dan Evans continued his spotless start to the season as he defeated Pedro Martínez 6-2, 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals in Sydney. Evans has now won six matches a row, including an unbeaten spell at the ATP Cup in the opening week of the season.
In Australian Open qualifying, Harriet Dart, the 11th seed, reached the final round with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 win over Alycia Parks.