January 21, 2016
Only two people can stop Andy Murray, the way he is playing – Novak Djokovic and Murray’s wife Kim.
World number two Murray defeated big-serving Sam Groth after the local hero let slip that he was about to enter unfamiliar Melbourne territory.
Reflecting on his 6-0, 6-4, 6-1 victory, Murray explained: ‘I was standing right next to Sam in the locker room and he said to someone, “This is my first time on Rod Laver. I’ve never even hit on here before.” Was I surprised he said it? A little bit. We were only a metre apart.’
Even so, Murray’s confidence and ruthlessness, as he dismantled a player capable of serving at a record-breaking 163mph, was something to behold.
And it could be some battle against Djokovic, should the pair meet in the final. For that to happen, of course, Andy’s wife Kim will have to refrain from going into labour. Because Murray is still talking like a man who will quit the tournament the moment anything dramatic happens back home.
Murray said: ‘If I get the call to go home I’m going to be up the whole flight reading and trying to get as many tips as I can so that I’m prepared when I land.’
Meanwhile there are no such complications for Victoria Azarenka, who already has opponents quaking in their boots and must pose a very real threat to Serena Williams.
Having delivered the dreaded “double bagel” to her first-round opponent, Alison van Uytvanck, Azarenka followed up with a crushing 6-1, 6-2 defeat of Danka Kovinic of Montenegro.
After winning the title here in 2012 and 2013, it looks as though the Belarusian Azarenka really means business.
‘I think I’m feeling in the best shape body-wise, spirit-wise, everything-wise,’ she said.
And the prospect of facing a big-hitter who has only conceded three games in four sets does not fill her next opponent with confidence – quite the reverse.
Japanese teenager Naomi Osaka, a qualifier, admitted: ‘I don’t really like thinking about it too much because it freaks me out.’
But there will be no more Grand Slam clashes to contemplate for Lleyton Hewitt, who was defeated in three sets by David Ferrer.
Although Hewitt put up a spirited display, particularly in the final set, it was Ferrer who ultimately remained in control to win 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.
Ferrer said afterwards: ‘I only have good words for him, he is an idol and an amazing player. It is special for me to play in Lleyton’s last match. He is unbelievable and tonight is for him, not for me.’
You’ll be able to catch up with our “Farewell Hewitt” feature elsewhere on the site.
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