Australian Open - Andy Murray routs Joao Sousa to reach fourth round

Andy Murray set up a mouth-watering clash with Grigor Dimitrov and a chance to avenge his defeat at Wimbledon after destroying Portugal's Joao Sousa 6-1 6-1 7-5 to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open.

Andy Murray eased past Joao Sousa in straight sets
Andy Murray eased past Joao Sousa in straight sets

A change of venue failed to halt Andy Murray's serene progress at the Australian Open before a major obstacle to the title was amazingly removed from his path.

Murray had played his first two matches on Margaret Court Arena and won both in straight sets to set up a third-round clash with Portugal's Joao Sousa, who knocked out 32nd seed Martin Klizan.

The sixth seed was required to switch to Hisense Arena on Friday but found the new surroundings equally to his liking, claiming a 6-1 6-1 7-5 win in just over two hours.

And within minutes of that match finishing, 17-time grand slam winner Roger Federer suffered a shock exit at the hands of Italy's Andreas Seppi, who could face Murray or Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals.

Seppi, who had won just one set from Federer in losing all 10 of their previous meetings, will face either Australia's Nick Kyrgios or Tunisia's Malek Jaziri in the fourth round.

Murray had beaten Sousa in all three of their previous meetings without dropping a set and a similar result was soon on the cards as the Scot cruised through the opening two sets, with Sousa also needing treatment for a knee injury during the second.

Despite such a commanding position, Murray was not about to take his foot off the accelerator and was furious with himself for not converting two break points early in the third set, branding himself lazy and twice punching himself in the thigh.

His mood improved when he did break for a 3-1 lead, but darkened again when he was broken back in the seventh game, his racket thrown to the ground in frustration at allowing Sousa back into the contest.

Murray regained his composure in time to hold serve and move into a 5-4 lead, although he was unable to take two match points on Sousa's serve in the following game.

That proved only a temporary blip however, the Olympic champion breaking in the 12th game to seal a 6-1 6-1 7-5 win and secure a fourth-round meeting with Dimitrov, who ended his reign as Wimbledon champion in the quarter-finals last year.

"I was up two sets to love and 4-1 and Joao came back into it and we played some very good points towards the end of the match," Murray said in an on-court interview. "He competed very well and made it difficult in the end. It was a good match.

"I've had three quite quick matches which helps but you expect with every round they are going to get tougher so if you can conserve as much energy as possible that's good."

Murray will next meet Dimitrov, who ended Murray's Wimbledon title defence in the quarter-finals last year.

The 10th seed laboured to get past crowd favourite Marcos Baghdatis with the fired-up Cypriot pushing him to five tough sets.

Dimitrov looked to be heading for defeat when the 2006 Open runner-up won the third set before he rallied to claim an exhausting 4-6 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-3 victory in a match lasting three hours and 28 minutes and played in a raucous atmosphere on court three at Melbourne Park.

Dimitrov, who reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year, said: "Obviously it was a tough game for me. I didn't really feel comfortable on the court. I thought Marcos was playing dominating tennis early on in the match. I wasn't really able to turn things around as fast as I wanted to.

"I felt quite good physically, which was I think the best sign for me today. I'm not going to hide my excitement of winning the match because it meant a lot to me. To be able to play three and a half hours and win 6-3 in the fifth and feeling really good after the match physically, that says a lot for me."

It took Dimitrov's record in five set matches to 4-3 and one that will prepare him against Murray in the next round.

"It's a great matchup for me. I'm always excited to play against him. I had a tough loss against him in Paris and I always like that kind of challenge," Dimitrov said.

"I think physically and mentally I'm ready to play that match and really give 100 percent. I'm going out there to win the match."

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