Murray eases into quarter-finals
Andy Murray was delighted to get past Gilles Simon in straight sets at the Australian Open after a fourth round encounter he admitted "didn't feel that competitive".
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With Simon struggling physically following his five-set marathon against Gael Monfils at the weekend, the match had a strange feel.
Murray was able to play well within himself, knowing second gear was likely to be enough against an opponent who had little realistic chance of winning.
And the world number three duly completed a 6-3 6-1 6-3 win to move on to a last eight clash with another Frenchman, Jeremy Chardy, whose run in Melbourne continued with a four-set defeat of Andreas Seppi.
"It was tough," said Murray. "A tough situation for both players, more so obviously for him.
"After the first few games it didn't feel that competitive. At this stage of a grand slam you're geed up and prepared for a tough battle.
"That's why it becomes hard because the emotions aren't quite into it. You're not necessarily feeling pressure but you're wanting to try to finish the match as quickly as possible."
It was hard to gauge the performance given his opponent's limitations but Murray will be pleased to have made it this far without overly exerting himself.
The match was in stark contrast to title rival Novak Djokovic's five-hour struggle against Stanislas Wawrinka on Sunday and the Scot will be hoping his relatively easy route through the bottom half of the draw will prove an advantage in the challenges which lie ahead.
Murray was pleased to have spent just 95 minutes on Hisense Arena in advancing to his ninth successive grand slam quarter-final.
"I think it was always going to be that way," he added.
"I felt after the first few games, because he wasn't serving hard at all, his forehand side wasn't moving that well either (that) it was just about trying to finish the match as quickly as I could and then getting ready for the next one."
Simon had almost four hours of treatment after the Monfils match and he conceded his physical condition meant he had little chance of improving a record which now stands at one win from 11 meetings with Murray.
"It was difficult for me today but I knew that before," he said.
"It was a painful hour and a half on the court. But Andy is a very good player anyway so it's always very hard to beat him.
"Without being 100 per cent you have almost no chance."
The match started with three successive breaks as Murray instantly took a liking to the weakened Simon serve - the average speed of his first delivery in the match was just 97 miles per hour - to go 2-1 up.
Given his condition, Simon was performing admirably in the majority of the rallies although he was aided by some uncharacteristically sloppy play from the US Open champion.
Murray made 14 unforced errors in the first set but Simon was incapable of taking advantage and a third break of serve handed the Scot the opener.
The 14th seed was unable to get any freebies on serve with Murray able to work his way into every point.
And from there the Scot was happy to rally, moving his opponent round the court, knowing his energy reserves were low.
It was to prove a clever tactic as Murray broke at the third attempt for a 2-0 second set lead thanks to another patient build-up followed by a cunning angled cross-court winner.
But, as he did at the start of the match, he was unable to consolidate, playing a sloppy game as Simon was handed a route back.
The Frenchman was starting to look tired, however, his sliced forehand into the net at break point in the next game the shot of a man with plenty of miles in the legs.
Murray held for 4-1 and all of a sudden it was starting to look an awfully long way back for Simon.
And the hole got even deeper as a weary forehand on break point extended Murray's advantage before he served it out to move two sets up.
Simon was continuing to fight hard but his body was, by now, failing him.
The trainer was called after the fifth game of the third set with Murray leading 3-2 having broken in game three.
Sensing the end was nigh, the third seed was playing a smart game. There was no need for him to go for too much, simply getting the ball in court was sufficient to beat a player now looking desperate to be put out of his misery.
And he got his wish when Murray converted his second match point, blasting a winner down the line.