When two Top 10 seeds go head to head at the US Open, you know it’s going to be a tense display of high-level tennis. Monday’s contest between No. 8 Andy Murray and No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga delivered all the makings of a back-and-forth drama, but it was Murray who held steady at the critical moments to claim the 7-5, 7-5, 6-4 victory.
It was a landmark win for the Scot, who had defeated a Top 10 player since he made history by winning the Wimbledon title last summer. And the fact that he won in straight sets over Tsonga – who is certainly no pushover – indicates that Murray is finally regaining his top form here in New York.
“I feel like I'm playing well,” Murray said. “I'm going to have to play extremely well to win the event or even just to get through the next match. You never know what can happen in a couple of days. A week ago I didn't feel great at all. Obviously after the first match was a big concern, you know, and now a week later I'm now in the quarters.”
Tsonga’s play fluctuated at times, particularly on serve, as he faced 13 break points and hit 43 unforced errors to Murray’s 18. But Murray had the stronger tactical game plan, as he picked on Tsonga’s backhand for much of the first set, then opened up the court more often when the Frenchman began to anticipate shots to the left side of the court. In all, Murray fired 45 winners on the match.
The win extends Murray’s record against Tsonga to 10-2, with their previous meeting falling in Tsonga’s favor at the Emirates Airline US Open Series event in Toronto last month.
Murray’s next test in the quarterfinals is world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who is also recapturing his championship form here on the hard courts of New York after a disappointing summer. And though it’s been a year since the world No. 9 Scot has defeated Djokovic, he still feels that his best tennis is yet to come.
“I don't feel like I'm that far away from playing my best tennis. You know, it's still obviously a long way from trying to win the tournament, but, it's only nine sets now, three matches, and I’ll just try and take it one set at a time. I’m maybe five, six days away from potentially winning another Grand Slam. I know there is a lot of work to be done between now and then.”