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Monday, 4 July 2016 22:30 PM BST
Murray snuffs out Kyrgios threat
No.2 seed moves on in straight sets as Australian's challenge fades dramatically READ MORE

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A subdued celebration is often par for the course when Andy Murray prevails.

What was more a surprise on Monday was the relative ease with which he stifled dangerous Australian Nick Kyrgios’s fire to move through to his ninth straight Wimbledon quarter-final.

When a camera honed in on a dejected Kyrgios well on his way to the 7-5, 6-1, 6-3 capitulation, the tattoo inscribed on his right forearm said it all – “time is running out”.

And for a man who looked as though he would rather be anywhere else as the match wore on, that clock could not have ticked over quickly enough.

The sparks never flew in what was the most eagerly anticipated of the men’s fourth-round showdowns, with Murray eking out a tight first set before a lackadaisical fade from his 21-year-old opponent, a player with whom he has developed a close friendship off the court, but a contender he has now beaten for the fifth time in as many meetings, a defeat now in each of the four Grand Slams.

Kyrgios, brutally honest as ever, conceded he lost belief after dropping a tight first set and Murray made it his business not to give an inch when seemingly coasting to victory. His was an opponent capable of turning a match in a flash on a string of improbable winners.

“Just keep your head down really,” Murray said of closing out an opponent who appeared to have the next flight back to Canberra on his mind. “Concentrate on your side of the court, control what you can, basically.

“You can't always control what your opponent's doing or how your opponent's playing. But you can apply yourself to every single point and fight for every point. Don't give up any cheap games or anything like that.

“I did a good job of that today. I don't think I gave up a break point. I was solid on my serve. Then, you know, created a little chance at the end of the first set.

“After that, in the second set especially, I just tried to make as many balls as possible. That was it.”

I think when things get tough, I'm just a little bit soft

- Nick Kyrgios

With the finish line in sight, a netted forehand from the Australian handed Murray a love hold for 5-3 and a casual backhand long handed the No.2 seed a match point. Kyrgios saved it with a serve-volley winner and survived a second match point to maintain a flicker of hope.

That was instantly quashed a game later as Murray whipped a forehand winner into the corner and sealed the result with his eighth ace.

This was Kyrgios’s third fourth round appearance at the All England Club in as many years. But after the lofty heights of handing then No.1 Rafael Nadal a Centre Court hiding on debut two years ago, this served as a reality check of how far he still had to climb.

He said it felt like “a mountain to climb after losing the first set” and made a sobering insight into making it as a professional on tour.

“I think when things get tough, I'm just a little bit soft,” Kyrgios said. “I mean, I've got experience, but it ultimately comes down to just laying it all out there and competing for a long time. I didn't do that today at all.

“Like I've previously said, I don't love the sport. But, you know, I don't really know what else to do without it. I obviously like playing the game. It's a massive part of my life.”

No.12 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is Murray’s next hurdle. And after world No.1 Novak Djokovic’s early demise, the Scot has assumed overwhelming title favouritism. It is the first time he has found himself in such a position at a major.

“I know Tsonga is one of the best grass-court players in the world. If he plays well and I'm not on my game, I can lose that match for sure,” Murray said. “So I need to make sure I have a good practice tomorrow, stay focused on that one.

“In terms of dealing with everything else, I've been dealing with it for years. I feel no different this year to any other year when I played here.”

It is the attitude of a proven champion. The reality though is much different.

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