Andy Murray can be called a lot of things at The Championships. Home favourite. Top seed. Two-time champion. Perhaps “Mr. Consistent” should be added to the list.
The Scot reached his 10th consecutive Wimbledon quarter-final on Monday, beating Frenchman Benoit Paire 7-6(1), 6-4, 6-4 on Centre Court. Murray becomes only the third man in the Open Era to advance to 10 straight quarter-finals at the same Grand Slam.
10 or more consecutive quarterfinal appearances at a Grand Slam (Open Era)
|Jimmy Connors||13 – US Open (1973-1985); 11 – Wimbledon (1972-1982)|
|Roger Federer||11 – Australian Open (2004-2014); 10 – Wimbledon (2003-2012)|
|Andy Murray||10 – Wimbledon (2008-2017)|
The top seed has now reached at least the quarter-finals at 24 of his past 26 Grand Slam tournaments. The only times he’s fallen short were the 2017 Australian Open (l. to Mischa Zverev) and the 2015 US Open (l. to Kevin Anderson). Murray missed 2013 Roland Garros because of a back injury.
The Brit didn’t play his sharpest tennis against Paire. The Scot was broken in two of his first three service games, and Paire served to gain a 5-3 lead. But, as Murray did against Italian Fabio Fognini in the third round, the Scot dug in and battled to advance.
“One of the most pleasing things about the match was that I felt like I was able to track down a lot of his shots. I came up with some good shots on the run and made it difficult for him to hit loads of winners past me. That’s a big part of my game,” Murray said. “If I’m struggling and not moving well, it affects my performance maybe more than other guys who don’t rely on their movement as much.”
Murray broke back in the first set and clinched the tie-break when Paire sailed a forehand long. The top seed was increasingly vocal throughout the fourth-round match, expressing his frustration with his coaching box.
But his level gradually improved as Paire couldn’t find ways to gain a strong footing in the round of 16 affair. The Frenchman was trying to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final but went three for 11 on break points. Murray, meanwhile, was five for 16 on his break-point chances. Murray was the cleaner hitter of the two, though, finishing with 25 winners compared to only eight unforced errors.
“I was a little bit nervous, not serving well. It’s never easy against Andy. He never gives you points. For sure I’m not really happy about my match today, but it was a good tournament,” Paire said. “I wanted to change. I wanted to have fun here in this tournament. The club is very nice, beautiful. The Centre Court is amazing. I wanted to play full every match, every point. I’m really happy about that for this week and for the confidence of making the last 16.”
The Scot will next face Sam Querrey of the U.S., who made it back-to-back trips to the Wimbledon quarter-finals with a 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-7(11), 6-3 win against South African Kevin Anderson. Querrey had four match points in the fourth-set tie-break – at 6/5, 8/7, 10/9 and 11/10 – but Anderson saved them all to force a decider.
Querrey bounced back in the fifth set, though, breaking Anderson to lead 4-2 and seeing another match point at 5-2. Anderson again erased the match point but Querrey converted his sixth opportunity to advance after three hours and 11 minutes. Querrey finished with 31 aces and won 82 per cent of his first-serve points (93/113).
The American fell to 2016 finalist Milos Raonic in last year’s quarter-final but will look to reach a Grand Slam semi-final for the first time against Murray.
“Sam obviously likes the conditions here. He played really well last year. He’s had some good wins here, some tight matches as well. He’ll be confident going in. He obviously has a big serve. He goes for his shots. He’s a very aggressive player,” Murray said. “Today, I maybe played one or two service games in the first set that weren’t the best. Against him, you can’t really afford that. He’s not an easy guy to break. When he’s ahead, he can serve well. He’s a good frontrunner. I’ll need to make sure I’m serving well and not letting him dictate too much.”
“He makes a ton of balls. He plays great defense… Hopefully I can make that extra ball or close out a little harder at the net, try not to let him dictate with his defense,” Querrey said. “It’s going to be tough. I’ve played him in the past, like in Australia, many times before that. He’s playing at a high level. He’s defending champion. No. 1 in the world. He loves playing here. The crowd is going to be behind him. But sometimes it’s fun to go out there and play where the crowd is behind the other player 100 per cent. I’m going to try to play aggressive, hopefully play well, and sneak out a win.”