Andy Murray produced one of the finest performances of his increasingly stellar year by demolishing Grigor Dimitrov at the US Open in straight sets.
Before the match, world number 24 Dimitrov had spoken of how he had fallen back in love with the sport and the 2014 Aegon Championships winner had been displaying some of the form that has brought him victory in big matches against Murray in the past.
However, the Scot responded with a display of coruscating brilliance to triumph 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 and clinch a quarter-final against Kei Nishikori. Having only managed to get just over 40 per cent of first serves in during his previous round match against veteran Paolo Lorenzi, Murray was able to turn on the power with some blistering serves, including one of 141 mph, his fastest on record.
Dmitrov actually created two break points in Murray's opening service game in the first set, but thereafter he never got a look in, while the Wimbledon champion's brilliant returning meant his own serve was constantly under pressure. Against such a withering onslaught, Dimitrov had no answer except to try to muscle his way out of trouble, a futile tactic against a player who was defending everything so well.
Murray's display not only saw him into the last eight and maintained his chances of making all four Grand Slam finals this year; it was also a timely statement after Novak Djokovic reached the quarter-finals with a similarly one-sided straight-sets win over Kyle Edmund. Murray admitted after his match that he had wanted to watch this match, but had slept through. Clearly it was a refreshing slumber, even if out on court his compatriot was enduring a tough end to an excellent tournament.
That Djokovic should produce such an imperious performance after slipping through the two previous rounds thanks to a couple of retirements will have been noted by Murray's camp. Both players now appear in ominous form and another meeting in the final could be on the cards, notwithstanding the extensive French presence in the last eight, including rising star Lucas Pouille, who downed Rafael Nadal in a five-set epic.
Fans booking corporate hospitality packages for the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 in November can expect to see Murray and Djokovic in action, with many other places still up for grabs.
There will now be two Murrays on show at the O2, as Jamie Murray and his Brazilian partner Bruno Soares have clinched their places in the end-of-season showpiece.
The pair guaranteed their spot in London by winning their third round match against Brian Baker and Marcus Daniell, while Jean-Julien Roger and Horia Tecau lost, ensuring the Australian Open winners have built up a big enough points gap to ensure they make the top eight.
Commenting on the news, Soares said: “It means a lot to us. This is the number one goal in the beginning of the year. It's to qualify. It's to be in the top eight.
"I've played there a couple of times, and it's just the best tournament of the year.”
The pair will now hope that they, like Andy Murray, can now add a second Grand Slam title of the year.
By Keith Prowse