Andy Murray has stormed into his seventh slam semi-final in the last nine events, with a 6-3 6-3 6-1 destruction of rising son Kei Nishikori.
On a cooler day, Murray never had to burn too brightly to see off the world number 26, who was clearly feeling the effects of the 14 sets he'd endured against Ebden, Benneteau and Tsonga.
In truth, the Scot will look back on the match with mixed feelings. There'll be satisfaction in negating the smoking backcourt play of the Japanese, but disappointment at landing only 44% of his first serves. However, as Tim Henman once memorably observed, "There's no 'remarks' column in tennis".
Sticking to his new philosophy of hugging the baseline, Murray picked up where he left off against Kukushkin, who suffered eight consecutive service breaks at the hands of the Scot in round four. The difference today was that break points on the Murray serve were as plentiful as mediocre Melbourne sushi restaurants.Read more (301 words)
After storming to a 2-0 lead, the world number four needed to save two break points to consolidate it. This became the theme of the match, with Murray converting seven out of 18 and Nishikori two out of 10.
Those break-point stats told a truer tale than the scoreline of a match that was closer than met the eye. The Japanese is a true talent, admirably displayed in the fifth game with a remarkable ‘tweener’ lob that forced a sinew-busting smash, which Nishikori promptly fizzed into a corner.
Murray served out the opening set in 55 minutes, another stat that offered a more-accurate reading of the match. A more-heartening figure was the 58% of points won on second serve, which remains the most consistent of any player left in the tournament.
A barrage of pulverising groundstrokes from Murray and Nishikori's less-than-nuclear serving (averaging just 85mph on his second delivery) helped secure the second set. With the groundwork done, Murray rode off into the Victorian sunset at a canter in set three.
"There were a lot of good points," Murray said. "Most of the fun points, he was winning, so I was trying to keep them as short as possible. I played a bit better in the third, but it was tough. I need to serve better. I didn't serve particularly well, but the returning was good."
After an awkward and functional victory, the best that can be said is that Murray controlled the dynamics of the match, if not the tennis itself – as good a measure of a seasoned matchplayer as any.
Murray will need all of that match management and more as he prepares for a probable semi-final with Novak Djokovic. Should he negotiate that, a showdown with Nadal or Federer beckons. Truly, the great titles bow down to no one.