World No. 1 Andy Murray had to be wary of No. 31 seed Sam Querrey on Friday after the American earned a reputation as a giant killer following his upset of Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon last July, but the Briton stood tall and secured a decisive 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win to clinch a spot in the Australian Open’s round of 16.
Murray is now 7-1 all time against Querrey, and he has yet to drop a set in Melbourne with three matches in the bag.
As ESPN’s Brad Gilbert noted, Querrey‘s exit means there are no more Americans standing in Australia:
US men started with a tourney high 14 men unfortunately now all out
— Brad Gilbert (@bgtennisnation) January 20, 2017
Although the world No. 1 wasn’t in peak form at the start, he won the first set’s critical points and didn’t let the typically aggressive Querrey impose his will to gain an early edge.
That much was clear toward the end of the opening frame, when Murray used superb defense to keep Querrey at bay and secure a break at 5-4. While the American tried to pepper the lines with forceful winners, Murray was able to anticipate his big forehands and respond with lobs and groundstrokes that flustered the challenger.
Murray proceeded to close out the first set on serve for a 6-4 win, and the Scot taking his chance to seize momentum was indicative of his place among the sport’s best, according to the Telegraph‘s Charlie Eccleshare:
That was a set befitting the world No 1. Querrey the better player for much of it, but #AndyMurray stepped it up and ambushed him at the end
— Charlie Eccleshare (@CDEccleshare) January 20, 2017
From that point forward, Murray was in complete control.
Once Querrey‘s initial challenges were quelled, the three-time major champion settled into a groove and breezed past the world’s 32-ranked player thanks to his efficiency on serve and composure on defense.
All told, Murray won 77 percent of his first-serve points—which was 20 percent clear of Querrey‘s mark. The favorite also posted five fewer unforced errors than his opponent and won 45 percent of receiving points on a day when Querrey couldn’t find consistency on serve.
With another win in hand, Murray will square off against Mischa Zverev in the round of 16 after the German defeated Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri in four sets on Friday.
And while they’ve only met once before in 2015—when Murray captured a straight-set victory in Munich—the Scot should hold a significant upper hand thanks to his Grand Slam pedigree.
Should Murray stick to the script and battle beyond the unseeded Zverev, all eyes will be on his section of the draw with a potential quarterfinal matchup against Roger Federer or Kei Nishikori in play.
“It was a tough match,” Murray said, according to Metro‘s George Bellshaw. “Sam, especially in the first, was hitting a huge ball and served well.”
Murray also confirmed that he wasn’t bothered by an ankle injury that cropped up during his second-round win over Andrey Rublev.
“I felt better and better throughout the match,” he said, per Bellshaw. “I moved much better. It was a little bit sore.”
Rankings and records courtesy of ATPWorldTour.com. Match statistics retrieved from AusOpen.com.