ANDY MURRAY secured his place in the Australian Open quarter-finals today with a gritty four-set win over Grigor Dimitrov in Melbourne.
The Scot gained revenge over the Bulgarian for a shock defeat at Wimbledon last summer, clinching a 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 7-5 success.
World No.11 Dimitrov had raced into a 3-0 lead in the first set thanks to breaking Murray’s first service game on Rod Laver Arena.
However, Murray was looking to extend his streak of consecutive grand slam quarter-final appearances to 16 and was quick to get back on level terms, finding an amazingly acute angle with a backhand winner to help recover the break and then firing down three aces to hold.
The sixth seed broke again in the ninth game before a fifth ace gave him the opening set 6-4 in 40 minutes.
Murray looked set to take control of the match when he moved into a 3-1 lead and, despite being pegged back to 3-3, breaking Dimitrov again to move 6-5 in front.
However, Murray quickly found himself 15-40 down and although he saved two break points to get back to deuce, Dimitrov forced another and this time Murray cracked under the pressure with a double fault.
Trailing 3-2 in the tie-break, Murray then failed to put away an overhead at full stretch to allow Dimitrov a backhand winner down the line as the 23-year-old moved 6-3 in front.
Murray saved two points on his own serve but could do nothing about the third as a service winner gave Dimitrov the set in 70 minutes and levelled the match at one set all.
Murray’s mood was not improved in the third set when he was unable to take any of the four break points he created in the fourth game.
The object of his anger then switched to umpire Jake Garner, who failed to spot the ball had bounced twice before Dimitrov retrieved it.
Murray briefly stopped, thinking the point was over, but thankfully reacted quickly enough to put away a winner, before letting Garner know his feelings.
Garner may therefore have been quietly pleased when Murray finally broke Dimitrov in the ninth game and this time had no trouble serving out to take the set 6-3 to go 2-1 up in sets.
Dimitrov had twice come from a set down to beat Marcos Baghdatis in the third round and was not about to throw in the towel, saving yet another break point at the start of the fourth set.
Murray was understandably frustrated that he had converted just five of his 16 break points and Dimitrov compounded the agony by taking his fourth break point out of seven to surge into a 3-0 lead.
Dimitrov had to work hard to hold onto his next two service games and it was beyond midnight when Murray saved a set point to force his opponent to serve for the set.
And that proved crucial as the tenth seed committed two errors on his previously reliable forehand to allow Murray back into the match, a chance the former Wimbledon champion gratefully accepted.
After holding serve to level at 5-5, Murray broke Dimitrov again with a backhand return winner that had the Bulgarian smashing his racket into the ground before standing on it to ensure he had broken it in half.
Murray still had to complete the job and in the end was grateful for the assistance of a massive net cord to seal victory in three hours and 32 minutes.
He will now face Australia’s Nick Kyrgios in the quarter-finals after the 19-year-old beat Andreas Seppi in five sets.