Andy Murray looked back with satisfaction on a near-perfect first week of the Australian Open as he prepared to end home hopes of glory in Melbourne.
Murray secured another grand slam quarter-final appearance yesterday with a roller coaster victory over Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round.
The Scot missed the 2013 French Open but has now reached the quarter-final stage at the last 16 slams he has contested.
The 27-year-old looked set to be dragged into a decider when Dimitrov led 5-2 in the fourth set, but won the next five games to complete a 6-4 6-7 (5/7) 6-3 7-5 success in just over three and a half hours.
Sixth seed Murray has dropped just one set in the tournament so far and will look to improve his perfect 10-0 record against Australian players at tour level when he takes on home favourite Nick Kyrgios for a place in the semi-finals.
Kyrgios, the world number 53 who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbledon last year, saved a match point as he came from two sets down to beat Roger Federer’s conqueror Andreas Seppi 8-6 in the fifth set.
“Obviously the crowd will be right behind him. Understandably so,” said Murray, who will return to Rod Laver Arena to take on the 19-year-old on Tuesday.
“That’s just something that I’ll have to deal with in my way. I’ve played a lot of matches.
“I’ve played in the French Open against French players where the crowd can be very difficult. I’ve experienced it before, so hopefully I’ll deal with it well.”
Murray’s only complaints against Dimitrov stemmed from failing to serve out the second set at 6-5 and making a few poor decisions in the subsequent tie-break, but he was pleased by how he felt physically.
Murray cramped badly against Robin Haase at the US Open in August and last week referred to what he felt had been unfair criticism following that match in New York.
But it was a different story against Dimitrov and the former Wimbledon champion even managed a somewhat sheepish plug for the compression clothing provided by his new sponsors.
Asked if he had produced his best match since undergoing back surgery in September 2013, Murray added: “It’s very difficult for me to say right now. But in terms of how my body felt, if it was the best I played, my body allowed me to play that way for the whole duration of the match.
“I didn’t feel tired. I felt fresh. My back felt good. I wasn’t feeling stiff at all. I don’t normally say stuff like this, but for me the compression garments that I’m wearing just now are genuinely exceptional. In these conditions over the last couple of years I struggled a little bit, and I felt absolutely fine this evening.
“Whether or not it was the best match I played, for a match that went three and a half hours physically I felt way better than the last year or so.”