World Number One Andy Murray‘s hopes of winning a third grand slam title came to an end, after suffering a surprise defeat to Germany’s Mischa Zverev at the Australian Open.
Murray was the tournament favourite following Novak Djokovic’s early exit but the two-time grand slam champion was completely out-of-sorts, dropping serve eight times as he suffered his earliest defeat in Melbourne since 2009.
Zverev’s younger brother Alexander came up short in his third round clash with Rafael Nadal on Saturday, but Mischa managed to go one better than his sibling by securing the biggest win of this career.
Two break points in the first set gave the 29-year-old German a surprise lead and despite levelling the match at a set all with a rasping winner, Zverev began to re-take control in the third as Murray struggled to cope with his opponent’s serve-and-volley skills.
The world number 50 went on a run of winning five straight games and despite a minor blip in the fourth set with a nervous smash into the net, Zverev managed to keep a level head to secure a surprise 7-5 5-7 6-2 6-4 over the top seed.
Zverev will be hoping to pull off another major scalp in the quarter-finals where he faces 17-time grand slam winner Roger Federer, who needed to come from behind to see off fifth seed Kei Nishikori in five sets.
With Murray and Djokovic out of contention, Federer will hope to end his wait for a first grand slam title since 2012 in Melbourne as he quashed any doubts about his fitness in over three hours of scintillating tennis.
Federer dropped his opening two service games as the Japanese player raced into an early 5-1 lead but the Swiss man roared back, before eventually losing the opening set in a tie-break.
A single break in the second set saw Federer level the match up, before the 35-year-old tore Nishkori apart in the third set winning every point on the Japanese player’s second serve to take the lead.
Nishikori managed to take the match into a deciding set but Federer proved too strong for the 27-year-old, as he raced into a 3-0 lead in the fifth set before calmly closing it out to seal a hard-fought 6-7 (4/7) 6-4 6-1 4-6 6-3 win to reach the last eight.
It was an easier route into the quarter-finals for Federer’s compatriot Stan Wawrinka, as the US Open champion kept hopes of back-to-back grand slam titles alive with a straight sets win over Andreas Seppi.
The 89th ranked Italian rarely threatened the three-time grand slam champion despite forcing a tie-break in each of the three sets, where Wawrinka easily saw off Seppi to win 7-6 (7/2) 7-6 (7/4) 7-6 (7/4) and stay on course for a second title in Melbourne.
Jo Wilfred Tsonga stands in Wawrinka’s way of a place in the semi-finals, with the Frenchman ending the dream run of Great Brtiain’s Dan Evans to reach the last eight of the Australian Open.
Evans had knocked out seventh seed Marin Cilic and Australia’s own Bernard Tomic on his way into a first grand slam fourth round match, but the test of Tsonga proved too much for him as the Frenchman came from behind to win 6-7 (4/7) 6-2 6-4 6-4.
There was also a big shock on the women’s side of things, as defending champion Angelique Kerber crashed out of the Australian Open after a surprise defeat to American Coco Vandeweghe.
The two-time grand slam winner struggled to cope against the big-hitting American, who blasted six aces and 30 winners to reach the last eight in Melbourne for the first time.
World number 35 Vandweghe smashed a backhand crosscourt winner to take the single break of serve she needed to claim the first set and despite a double fault on her opening service game of the second set, Kerber could not take advantage.
Uncharacteristic errors from the German allowed Vandeweghe to break back for 3-3 with a big forehand and the New Yorker sealed a 6-2 6-3 win when Kerber looped a return well beyond the baseline.
French Open champion Garbine Muguruza remained on course for a second grand slam title, as the Spaniard denied Romania’s Sorana Cirstea another upset with a comfortable 6-2 6-3 victory to set up a quarter-final against Vandeweghe.
36-year-old Venus Williams continued her dominant display in Melbourne, as she brushed German’s Mona Barthel aside to reach a seventh Australian Open quarter-final.
Barthel did show some fight coming from 3-0 down in the first set by breaking twice to reduce the deficit to 4-3 but Williams broke straight back and held serve to win the first set. A single break in the 11th game of the second set was enough for the American to seal a 6-3 7-5 win.
A potential all-Williams final could be on the cards, but Venus Williams will have to first get past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who beat fellow Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals in Melbourne for the first time.