Melbourne: Andy Murray put a traumatic few days over the health of his father-in-law behind him on Monday as he beat Bernard Tomic to reach the Australian Open quarter -finals.
The British world number two ended the remaining home interest in the Grand Slam with a 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) win over 16th-seeded Tomic to set up a last-eight match with Spanish baseliner David Ferrer.
Meanwhile, Canadian star Milos Raonic, who was also shaken in his previous match by a high school shooting in his home country, impressively ousted the 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka in a tense five-setter.
Raonic, bidding to broaden his game under new coach Carlos Moya, overcame the Swiss world number four 6-4, 6-3, 5 -7, 4-6, 6-3 and will face Frenchman Gael Monfils in the last eight. There were questions how Murray would respond in his first match after his father-in-law Nigel Sears, Ana Ivanovic's coach, collapsed at the tournament and was taken to hospital on Saturday. Sears was cleared to leave hospital on Sunday and fly home following tests.
Adding to the tension of the moment, Murray's wife Kim Sears is heavily pregnant and he has pledged to rush home if she goes into labour. "Last few days were very, very tough. A lot of emotions, it's been sort of changing all the time in my head," Murray said on court moments after his win. Murray put the medical emergency behind him but it was a scrappy match, as he broke Tomic's serve six times and dropped his own serve four times.
"It was a tough match and both of us had our chances, Bernie didn't play his best tiebreak and missed a few easy balls so that helped at the end but he fought right to the end," Murray said. Raonic, the Canadian 13th seed, came out on top of a tense five-setter with Wawrinka after letting slip a two sets lead. It was Raonic's first win against the reigning French Open champion in five meetings, and he has not lost a match at tour level since going down to Rafael Nadal in the third round of last year's Shanghai Masters.
The power server, who beat Wawrinka's fellow Swiss Roger Federer to win this month's Brisbane International, was on track for a straight-sets win after four service breaks to lead by two sets. But Wawrinka lifted his intensity and took the match to a fifth set. "It's the next step for me to try and achieve the goals I want to achieve and I am always looking at ways to get better and I am always working for that," Raonic said.
Spanish eighth seed Ferrer ousted America's John Isner in 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in two hours, four minutes to set up his crack at Murray in the quarters. Monfils said he was lucky not to break any bones after a trademark acrobatic dive left him with a deep cut and bruises on the way to his first Australian Open quarter-final. The athletic Frenchman went airborne for an unsuccessful baseline volley during his four-set battle with Russia's Andrey Kuznetsov.
Afterwards Monfils was left nursing a deep cut on his finger and bruising that left him unable even to hold a racquet -- but he insisted he had no regrets about going for broke. The 29-year-old won 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) in two hours, 37 minutes to reach the last eight and a tussle with Raonic for the first time in 11 attempts. In women's tennis two-time champion Victoria Azarenka remained in ominous form to surge into the Australian Open quarter-finals, as Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai's amazing Grand Slam run stayed alive.
Former world number one Azarenka proved too strong for Czech Barbora Strycova on Rod Laver Arena, storming through 6 -2, 6-4 to set up a last-eight clash with Angelique Kerber, who beat fellow German Annika Beck 6-4, 6-0. Azarenka, the 14th seed who won at Melbourne Park in 2012 and 2013, has a 6-0 record over Kerber, including in the Brisbane International final this month, making her a hot favourite to keep her title run going.
"I'm looking forward to it. She's such a fighter and such a nice person," said the Belarusian, looking ahead to the test on Wednesday. "I'll just give it my best and I'm sure she'll do the same." Seventh seed Kerber powered past Beck to reach the quarter-finals for the first time and knows she has a formidable task ahead against a player who has won each of their encounters dating back to 2012.
"I had tough matches against her in the past. I never won against her right now, but that will be a challenge," she said. "It's a new one, it starts from zero, and I know what's coming from her. I will try to be aggressive and try to go and win the match."
World number one Serena Williams and fifth-seeded rival Maria Sharapova play each other in a headline last-eight clash on Tuesday, while fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska faces 10th seed Carla Suarez. Johanna Konta joined them to reach her maiden Grand Slam quarter-final and become Britain's first woman to reach the Australian Open last eight since Jo Durie in 1983. Konta prevailed in a three-hour, four-minute slugfest 4- 6, 6-4, 8-6 against Russia's Ekaterina Makarova.
"Goodness gracious," said Konta, who will next face Zhang. "Mentally, emotionally and physically I left it all out there on the court." The only other British women to get as far were Virginia Wade, who won in 1972, and Sue Barker who made the semis twice.
Zhang booked her place by battling past injured and tearful 15th seed Madison Keys. She had lost all 14 of her previous Grand Slam matches before this year's tournament and was mulling retirement, but she has now won four in a row after beating the American 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. It was devastating finale for Keys, last year's semi- finalist, who needed treatment on her upper left leg which hampered her movement. She gamely carried on but was clearly in pain, with tears on court. "Bad luck Madison. She was injured and I'm very lucky today," said Zhang. "It was so difficult to concentrate because I could see she was in pain."
Azarenka, 27, has been in the zone at Melbourne Park, dropping just 11 games in four matches as she zeroes in on a return to the top after battling injuries for the past two years. She went into the Strycova clash with a clear advantage, whipping her on all four of their previous meetings, including at the last two Australian Opens. But it wasn't straightforward against the Czech, who stunned third seed Garbine Muguruza in the last round.
"She is such a tough opponent. I'm just happy I went through. I played smart, aggressive and really took my opportunities," said Azarenka. Melbourne Park has been a happy hunting ground for Azarenka, who has now made the quarters or better five times in her last seven attempts. Kerber, who had a stellar 2015 but underachieved at the majors, eased past Beck who fell apart in the second set after pressing her compatriot hard in the first.
Australian Open quarter-final line-ups
Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) v Kei Nishikori (JPN x7)
Roger Federer (SUI x3) v Tomas Berdych (CZE x6)
Andy Murray (GBR x2) v David Ferrer (ESP x8)
Milos Raonic (CAN x13) v Gael Monfils (FRA x23)
Serena Williams (USA x1) v Maria Sharapova (RUS x5)
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL x4) v Carla Suarez (ESP x10)
Angelique Kerber (GER x7) v Victoria Azarenka (BLR x14)
Johanna Konta (GBR) v Zhang Shuai (CHN)