NEW YORK: Andy Murray won 9 of 10 games to start and overwhelmed Grigor Dimitrov 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 at the U.S. Open on Monday night to reach the quarterfinals for the 22nd time in his past 23 Grand Slam tournaments.
During the changeover right before the last game, it suddenly began to rain, and play was delayed only slightly before the shower passed. The new retractable roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium was not closed.
"I played extremely well. Tactically, played a good match," the No. 2-seeded Murray said. "And I served very well when I was behind in the games. Got a lot of free points with my serve and that was important."
He even was credited with one serve at 141 mph, which he said would be the first of his career that topped 140.
"I served one at 145 in San Jose, but the next day," Murray said with a smile, "they re-calibrated the gun because it was completely wrong."
Of Monday's fastest serve, Murray said: "I think that was lucky. I only did it once. So I'm not expecting to do it again."
He played well, certainly, but also faced little resistance from No. 22 Dimitrov, who had accumulated 23 unforced errors and only two winners by the time he trailed 3-0 in the second set.
"Obviously," Dimitrov said, "today I ran out of fuel, I think, physically and mentally."
Murray has lost three times in 10 meetings against Dimitrov, whose all-court game and smooth, one-handed backhand earned him the nickname "Baby Fed," as in Roger Federer. That includes in the 2014 Wimbledon quarterfinals and in their most recent encounter, in May at Miami.
But Murray is playing about as well as possible lately, reaching the final at each of his last seven tournaments prior to the U.S. Open. He has won 26 of his past 27 matches, including a title at Wimbledon and a second consecutive singles gold medal at the Olympics.
"Andy is the best player right now out there," Dimitrov said.
The 2012 champion at Flushing Meadows will face No. 6 Kei Nishikori in the quarterfinals Wednesday; the other matchup on their side of the draw is No. 3 Stan Wawrinka vs. 2009 U.S. Open title winner Juan Martin del Potro. Murray beat Nishikori in the semifinals at the Rio Games last month.
The only time in the past six seasons that Murray failed to get at least this far at a major that he entered came a year ago at the U.S. Open, when he lost to Kevin Anderson in the fourth round.
Now, though, Murray has a chance to become only the fourth man in the Open era to reach all four Grand Slam finals in a single season.
He lost to No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the finals of the Australian Open in January and French Open in June, before winning Wimbledon for the second time in July.
Since the professional era started in 1968, only Djokovic (2015), Roger Federer (2004, 2006 and 2007) and Rod Laver (1969, when he completed a calendar-year Grand Slam) have been to a season's four major title matches.