Andy Murray has sprung to Bernard Tomic’s defence after ending home hopes at Melbourne Park for another year with a hard-earned fourth-round win over the embattled Australian No.1.
The Great Scot trumped Tomic 6-4 6-4 7-6 (7-4) in two and a half hours neat on Monday, the defeat extending the local title drought to 38 years since unseeded giantkiller Chris O’Neil captured the Australian Open women’s crown back in 1978.
Tomic played catch up all night at Rod Laver Arena as the reigning Olympic champion and world No.2 overcame a disrupted and dramatic build-up to improve his perfect tour record against Australian rivals to a crazy 19-0 and surge into the last eight for a seventh time.
Murray rushed straight to hospital without even showering after learning his father-in-law Nigel Sears, coach of former women’s world No.1 Ana Ivanovic, collapsed in the stands during his tough third-round triumph over Joao Sousa on Saturday night.
The dual grand slam champion’s wife is also heavily pregnant, with the second seed vowing to cut short his Open tilt and return home to London should he get the call.
“It’s been a very, very tough few days,” Murray said.
“A lot of emotions; it’s been sort of changing all the time in my head. It’s been stressful.”
It’s also been a rough couple of days for Tomic, who copped the backlash for taking on the great Roger Federer in a verbal stoush.
Taking offence to Federer’s jibe earlier this month that Tomic had been promising unsuccessfully for years to crack the world’s top 10, the Queenslander hit back by claiming the Swiss was “nowhere near” the level of the top-ranked Novak Djokovic these days.
Tomic will likely cop more heat after dropping from a career-high No.17 to 20th in the rankings following his third last-16 exit in Melbourne in four years.
Murray, though, said the criticism of the 23-year-old had been harsh.
“Obviously if he can start getting a few more wins against the top players, that would help. But it seems like he gets a bit of a hard time,” Murray said after booking a quarter-final date with Spanish eighth seed David Ferrer.
“I think he’s the youngest player in the top 20. Most years he makes improvements. He’s the No.1 player in Australia.
“On the court, his personality is very different to someone like a (Nick) Kyrgios. But he deals with pressure well.
“He plays good tennis at the Aussie Open. He’s performed extremely well in Davis Cup. I think he’s only lost two or three Davis Cup matches.
“Obviously if he can be consistent throughout the year, it’s normal for young players to have ups and downs.
“But he seems to be playing more consistent tennis. He’ll definitely keep moving up the rankings.
“He’ll be a top-10 player, for sure.”
Despite his Open setback, Tomic remains confident he will eventually come good on his word.
He toned down his stance against Federer, saying he shouldn’t have attacked the former world No.1.
“I just would have liked Roger to say: `Okay, look, he had an amazing 2015 – went from 70, 80 to being 16,” Tomic said.
“He didn’t mention it. I just felt like maybe Roger said the wrong thing.
“I’m working. I went from where I was to 16, 17 in the world. It’s an amazing achievement. I’m there. I’m six, seven spots away.”