Confidence crisis over for Murray

9/1/2014 - Tennis

NEW YORK -- Andy Murray, soaked in sweat, could barely follow through on his toss of wrist bands into the Arthur Ashe crowd.

To the naked eye, the Monday scoreline looks deceptively comfortable, but Murray's 7-5, 7-5, 6-4 victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga took a lot out of him. It went 2 hours, 35 minutes, amid broiling conditions, and involved the usual odd cramping moments from the Wimbledon champion.

Still, this is just the kind of match Murray needed.

Since winning Wimbledon 14 months ago, Murray had failed to reach even one final and gone a disturbing 0-7 against top-10 players.

He finally erased that zero after the No. 8 seed beat No. 9, and perhaps the crisis of confidence is over.

In the big moments, Murray was bigger.

With Tsonga trying to reach a first-set tiebreaker, Murray converted his second set point with a terrific backhand return of a second serve, sprinting to net and stroking a gorgeous volley winner. It was precisely the same situation in the second set, when Tsonga missed another first serve and Murray crushed the second, forcing Tsonga to dump it into the net.

Next up: Novak Djokovic. The No. 1 seed demolished No. 22 Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-1, 7-5, 6-4 in 2 hours, 3 minutes. The German, who took out American John Isner in three tiebreakers, couldn't break Djokovic once.

Djokovic, who did a little dance afterward for the crowd at Louis Armstrong Stadium, is into his 22nd consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal. That only underlines how incredible Roger Federer's record streak of 36 truly is.

"Tough match," said Murray about Djokovic. "We've had a lot of long ones. Played a long one [here] a few years ago. I have great memories of that match."

For the record, Murray beat Djokovic in the 2012 five-set final that went an extraordinary 4 hours, 54 minutes -- tying the record for longest US Open final.

"If I play well," Murray said, "I have a chance."

Serena stays on course

Here we are in Day 8 of the US Open and there still hasn't been any drama from Serena Williams.

After dusting off Kaia Kanepi 6-3, 6-3 in a tidy 65 minutes, the No. 1 seed has won four matches and lost only 17 games.

It's kind of boring actually.

Oddly enough, the final Grand Slam of the year will feature Serena in a major quarterfinal for the first time this season.

"I never thought it would be so exciting," she said afterward, beaming. "Yeah! It feels good. Obviously I don't want this to end. But I'm just happy that I'm able to be performing a little better at the end of the year."

What are her chances of lifting an 18th Grand Slam singles title, which would tie her with Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert? Incredibly, Serena is the only top-10 player left in the draw. And Serena's 17 majors are 15 more than the rest of the field.

Reaching the semifinals shouldn't be a problem. Serena faces No. 11 Flavia Pennetta, who schooled Casey Dellacqua 7-5, 6-2. Serena is 5-0 against the Italian and beat her just two weeks ago 6-2, 6-2 in Cincinnati in a match that was over in 60 minutes.

After a disappointing campaign in this year's majors, Serena says she has a new attitude.

"I think I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well, particularly in the Slams, to do really well," Serena said. "Had a couple nagging injuries that definitely didn't help. Now I'm more relaxed. I feel like I don't have to win any more. I've had a wonderful career."

Wawrinka sinks Robredo

No. 3 seed Stan Wawrinka was tested by No. 16 Tommy Robredo, but finished in style to post a 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7), 6-2 win. Robredo had come in with a decisive 6-2 career head-to-head record, but the Swiss player was dominant, hitting 75 winners.

Robredo held two set points in the fluid and frenetic third set, but two errors by the Spaniard got Wawrinka back in it. He converted his second set point, which seemed to break Robredo's spirit.

After nearly three hours, Wawrinka raised his arms and puffed out his cheeks. After a so-so summer (he was 3-2 in Toronto and Cincinnati), the reigning Australian Open champion is into the quarterfinals for the second consecutive year -- and the third year in five -- and a date with either Milos Raonic or Kei Nishikori.

Bryans contemplate triple digits

Among the many unfathomable records belonging to Bob and Mike Bryan, there is this: For nine years running, they have won at least one Grand Slam doubles title.

They have some work to do if it's going to be a decade, as they haven't won a major title since last year's Wimbledon.

On Monday, in a packed Louis Armstrong Stadium, the No. 1-seeded Bryans took care of fellow Americans Bradley Klahn and Tim Smyczek 6-3, 7-6 (5). It's rare to get a crowd that big for a doubles match.

"Novak [Djokovic] was playing right after us," Mike said. "Not sure if they were coming out to see us. We've played in front of some semi-empty houses."

The 36-year-old California twins have another milestone looming. When they won the title at Monte Carlo in the spring, it was their 98th career championship. Then came a dry spell. The Bryans went 0-for-7 in tournaments, losing the Wimbledon final to Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock in a rousing five-setter. Finally, a few weeks ago in Cincinnati, they got No. 99.

Around the time they got to 85 titles, the brothers started talking about the century mark.

"That would be a really cool number to hit," said Bob. "We never imagined it would come around the US Open. That would make it even more special."

Australians Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde have the second-highest total in the Open era -- 38 behind at 61. On the women's side, Pam Shriver and Martina Navratilova have 79 doubles titles. The Bryans have won 15 Grand Slam doubles titles, three more than second-place John Newcombe and Tony Roche.

They will meet the winner of the No. 7-seeded team of David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco versus No. 9 seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau in a quarterfinal match.

Et cetera

No. 3 junior boys seed Jared Donaldson, a 17-year-old from Providence, Rhode Island, defeated Pedro Iamachkine of Peru 6-1, 6-0 in 48 minutes. No. 4 Tornado Alicia Black of the U.S. beat Kimberly Birrell of Australia 7-5, 6-0. No. 14-seeded American Taylor Harry Fritz defeated Tim Van Rijthoven of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-5. American Katerina Stewart beat Katie Boulter of Great Britain 7-6 (5), 7-6 (2). American Raveena Kingsley defeated Jaqueline Cristian 6-3, 6-3. Francesca Di Lorenzo of the U.S. was a 6-4, 6-0 winner over Maia Lumsden of Great Britain.