MELBOURNE, Australia - Andy Murray moved into the Australian Open quarterfinals today without dropping a set, beating No. 11 Jurgen Melzer, 6-3, 6-1, 6-1, in an impressive victory that will heighten expectations about him breaking a long British drought.
The fifth-seeded Murray closed with an ace to eliminate Melzer in straight sets at Melbourne Park for the second consecutive year.
The 2010 finalist gets a surprising opponent for his next match after 22-year-old Alexandr Dolgopolov stopped fourth-seeded Robin Soderling’s eight-match winning streak with a 1-6, 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 victory.
Murray has lost only 22 games on his way to the quarterfinals, the same stage where he beat Rafael Nadal last year.
“Last year I played some of the best tennis of my life,” said Murray, who made only 10 unforced errors against Melzer. “I’m hitting the ball really well. I hope it can continue. But I don’t want to get carried away — I’ve never won one of these things before.”
He has lost to Roger Federer in two major finals, extending a long title drought for British men at the Grand Slam tournaments that dates to 1936.
Murray has played Dolgopolov once and is wary of his unorthodox game. The Ukrainian player recalled his only previous meeting with Murray, a loss in the Davis Cup, and was surprised at the pace of the ball.
“I remember I was expecting more,” Dolgopolov said. “I thought he has a really big pace. I didn’t play those kind of players in real life. I just saw it on TV. TV makes it look much faster.”
Soderling hadn’t dropped a set during his surge that started with his run to the title at the Brisbane tuneup event. He dominated the opening set but couldn’t keep it up against Dolgopolov, who is making his fourth appearance in a major and was coming off a five-set win over former Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
No. 2-ranked Vera Zvonareva continued her roll toward a third consecutive Grand Slam final with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Iveta Benesova.
Zvonareva, who lost the Wimbledon final to Serena Williams and the U.S. Open final to Kim Clijsters last year, moved into a quarterfinal match against No. 25 Petra Kvitova, who rallied to beat No. 22 Flavia Pennetta, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Andy Roddick’s 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 fourth-round loss to 19th-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka means there are no Americans in the men’s or women’s quarterfinals.
No. 3 Novak Djokovic and No. 6 Tomas Berdych also won in the fourth round. Among the women, No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki and No. 9 Li Na advanced. No. 14 Maria Sharapova lost to No. 30 Andrea Petkovic.
Francesca Schiavone won the longest women’s match in Grand Slam history — a 6-4, 1-6, 16-14 victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova that took 4 hours, 44 minutes.