MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Andy Murray described some of his play as “shocking” and berated himself for playing “nonsense” tennis but the world number three was adamant he was not frustrated after he advanced to the Australian Open fourth round on Saturday.
The U.S. Open champion took himself to task on court during the second set of his third round clash against practice partner Ricardas Berankis, cajoling himself to “show something” before he ran out a 6-3 6-4 7-5 winner.
He also said courtside afterwards that he had been frustrated with some of his shotmaking, but after the heat of the moment had passed, the Briton said there was nothing frustrating about winning, however ugly.
“Nothing’s frustrating me. I won in straight sets my first three matches,” the world number three told reporters.
”Every player wants to hit the ball well every day if they can but the reality is it isn’t always going to happen.
”So I‘m aware I’ll need to improve. But you also don’t necessarily want to be playing your best tennis the first round of a grand slam or of any tournament.
”You want to try and improve as the matches go on (and) I‘m sitting here happy that I‘m through to the fourth round having not having played my best tennis.
“Hopefully I’ll improve for the next one.”
The pair have practiced together several times in Australia over the past two years and the Lithuanian qualifier exploited that knowledge to change his pace, shots and angles to effect Murray’s timing.
“Sometimes when you play someone in a match you never played before, sometimes things you do on the court may surprise them a bit at the beginning of the match and vice versa,” said Murray, who next meets Gilles Simon or Gael Monfils.
“Whereas today there’s not really as many surprises. They know the things you do well. They know the things they can try and exploit.”
Berankis, who missed three months last year due to surgery on a hernia, had beaten Sergiy Stakhovsky in the first round and then upset 25th seed Florian Mayer in the second and his unorthodox approach appeared to bother Murray.
Several times he flubbed shots and left the ball too short against the 22-year-old, eliciting face grimaces, thigh thumps and one smack of his racquet into the bright blue court from the Scotsman.
“Yeah, it was a tough match. He takes the ball very early, hits the ball very flat compared to most players on the tour,” Murray said.
“And when the ball is between his hips and his shoulder, he hits the ball extremely well. He’s got very good timing. He made it tough.” (Editing by Patrick Johnston and Nick Mulvenney)