Andy Murray is out of the Australian Open. The Scottish world number one, who has lost five Australian Open finals, including the last two, was eliminated by German Mischa Zverev in four sets 7-5, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4.
Nobody saw this coming. Murray had cruised through the first three rounds without losing a set, and with world number two Novak Djokovic having been eliminated from the tournanment, you thought, yep, this is finally Andy's year.
But no. Zverev was just too good. He didn't hit as many winners as Murray -- just 52 to 71 -- and the unforced errors count was almost equal. But Zverev converted more break points, and was much more successful on his second serve. He just beat Murray with consistency. This was not death by force -- it was death by niggling.
"He just kept coming up with great shots. It just wasn't meant to be," Murray said.
Zverev, 29, is a German of Russian heritage, ranked 50 in the world. His surname should now be quite familiar to tennis fans, after his little brother brother Sascha, 19, pushed Rafael Nadal to the brink on Saturday before the Spaniard prevailed in a five set thriller.
The elder Zverev brother said he had been inspired by his brother's recent form, and so it proved. He now moves into his first fourth round match at any of the four Grand Slams.
And Murray? Well, he's won two Wimbledons and a U.S. Open in one of the toughest eras of men's tennis, so his career is by any measure a huge success. All the same, this was a tournament that was his to lose.
All week people have been calling him by his honorific, "Sir" Andy Murray (he was knighted in the 2017 New Year honours for services to tennis and charity). Yet it's unexpected losses like this one that keep him one step below true tennis royalty.
In better news for fans of the so-called "Big four", Roger Federer survived a tough five-setter against Japan's world number 5 Kei Nishikori, winning 6-7, 6-4, 6-1,4-6, 6-3. Fed's ranked 17 in this tournament because of time away from the game, but in so many people's eyes, he's still the king.
The 35-year-old Swiss, who has won this tournament four times, will meet Zverev in the quarter finals.
Meanwhile in news of interest to Australian tennis fans, the men who beat Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic are now both out of the tournament. Twelfth seed Jo Wilfried Tsonga ousted Briton David Evans, while Stan Wawrinka beat Andreas Seppi in three tight sets.
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