Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray says Novak Djokovic’s crushing defeat to world No 117 Denis Istomin is a surprise as the Serb is a six-time Australian Open champion.
Murray progressed to the fourth round on Friday January 20 after blitzing American Sam Querrey in straight sets 6-4 6-2 6-4 on Hisense Arena.
The five-time Australian Open finalist dispatched Querrey a minute shy of two hours at Melbourne Park – only seven months prior at Wimbledon, the big-serving American beat former world No 1 Novak Djokovic in four-sets.
With Djokovic now an unusual absentee from week two in Melbourne, Murray says he’s as shocked as everyone after Istomin’s historic win, but the Brit isn’t taking anything for granted.
“Yeah I was obviously surprised,” the 29-year-old said. “You know, Novak’s record here speaks for itself. He’s had incredible success here over the years, he obviously loves the conditions.”
“For me, it doesn’t change anything unless I was to potentially reach the final because I can’t play Novak in the fourth round, or the third round.
“No worry about that really, you know obviously If I were to get to the final and then it has an effect, you know a lot of the times I’ve been in the final I’ve played against him.”
Murray added: “I’ve had some tough ones but I wasn’t scheduled to play Novak today so my job is to concentrate on Sam [Querrey] and to go into the match with a clear head and game plan and try to play well, and I did that.”
Asked whether he watched and lived every point of Istomin’s stunning victory, Murray said: “I saw like three or four points really, so I don’t know exactly what happened.”
After three straight-set wins in remarkably different weather conditions – Murray kicked off chasing his fourth Grand Slam in the blistering afternoon heat against Marchenko, then demolished Rublev on a humid, but bearable evening, and made short work of Querrey in breezy, overcast conditions, he now faces Mischa Zverev in the fourth round.
The 29-year-old German – ranked No 50 in the world, beat Malek Jaziri in four sets 6-1 4-6 6-3 6-0 to challenge Murray for a place in the quarterfinals.
The world No 1 showed exceptional court coverage during the two hours on Hisense Arena, dispatching a total of 23 out of 27 net points.
Now the red-hot favourite to win the Australian Open that’s eluded him for so long, Murray is noticing considerable improvements with each match he plays.
“I think I’ve played a little better each match,” he said. “[But] there’s not been one thing I’ve been delighted with. I thought I moved much better today than I did in the first two matches which was really positive for me.
“Each match I’ve improved a little bit, so hopefully that’s a good sign and I keep getting better.”