British number one Andy Murray is looking forward to his quarterfinal match with Kei Nishikori in the early hours of Wednesday morning, but is wary of an opponent in great form.
Murray had an easy fourth round match, spending just 49 minutes in the Rod Laver Arena as his opponent Mikhail Kukushkin had to retire in the third set with a hip flexor problem. The Kazakhstan player had two tough 5 set matches in the run up to his meeting with Murray and these proved to have taken too much out of him to continue on his winning streak.
“I thought I played a little bit better each round. I didn’t feel good at all in my first match but I managed to get through. Then I started serving better and moving better,” said Murray after the match. “I will definitely be fresh for the next few rounds, hopefully.”
Kei Nishikori beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to set up his meeting with Murray, and looked fantastic, controlling the points against his athletic opponent. Murray admits he was watching closely, gauging the Japanese player and looking for weaknesses to exploit. “Kei is playing really, really well. He’s very good, very deceptive. For somebody who is not the tallest, he creates a lot of power,” Murray said. “He was dictating all the points from the back of the court against Tsonga.”
Murray will however be able to approach the match with some confidence, as he beat Nishikori comfortably 6-0, 6-3 in the semifinals of the 2011 Shanghai Masters tournament.
Since then Andy has also gained 8-time grand slam winner Ivan Lendl as a coach, and they seem to be working well together – to the extent that fans are backing him more than ever with tennis bets online. Lendl’s main aim is to modify Andy’s approach to his matches to become more aggressive, and to move forward on the baseline more often.