Ruthless Murray 'eviscerates' Chardy in Australian Open
Scot finally finds his form to send Frenchman packing and send out warning to his rivals
ANDY MURRAY powered his way into the semi-finals of the Australian Open today as he finally found some championship form to crush unseeded Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in straight sets in Melbourne.
The Scot, who has still not dropped a set in the tournament, took less than two hours to dispose of his latest opponent 6-4 6-1 6-2. Even more encouraging was the fact that he looked as if he had clicked into gear at the right time after some efficient, but less than impressive, performances in the earlier rounds.
The Frenchman, who beat Murray in their last meeting in Cincinnati last year, could not cope with the Briton's power and the world number 36 was put firmly in his place. "It is a long way from Cincinnati to Melbourne," noted The Guardian. "In every department [Murray] towered over Chardy - who played quite well."
BBC tennis correspondent Jonathan Overend said the performance would have been "very satisfying" for the British number one, who was "a little out of touch in the first week".
"What a relief to see the flow, rhythm and sweet timing return," he wrote. "He moved exceptionally well, served strongly and was ruthless on break points. The perfect preparation for a tougher test against an old rival in the last four."
It was an "evisceration" according to the Daily Telegraph, which notes that Murray now has a record of 46 wins in his last 50 matches against French opponents. Chardy's main problem is a weak backhand, and Murray exploited it without mercy.
The Times agreed that Murray had put down a marker. "It was a performance which, from the very first shot, had an edginess and certainty about it, unlike some of the careless tennis he has played in this championship. He wanted to teach Chardy a lesson and he did just that."
Murray's main concern now, apart from his next opponent, is the conditions. He has yet to play an evening match, and will have to adapt to the slightly different conditions that prevail after dark in Melbourne, when he plays his semi-final against Roger Federer. But such was the ease of his victory that Murray was able to schedule a practice session under the lights.
Before Murray appeared on the Rod Laver Arena court, the crowd witnessed the biggest shock of the tournament so far as up-and-coming American Sloane Stephens stunned compatriot Serena Williams in the quarter-finals of the women's singles.