Andy Murray has enjoyed a relatively easy passage into the quarter finals of the Australian Open and drama should be kept to a minimum again as he faces Kei Nishikori for a spot in the last four for a fifth Grand Slam in succession.
Murray was initially thought to have received a far tougher draw than his leading Australian Open rivals, but has benefitted from both Gael Monfils and Jo Wilfried Tsonga being eliminated earlier than expected.
Nishikori was responsible for bringing Tsonga’s challenge to a premature end, but with Murray unlikely to make anywhere close to the same number of unforced errors, the Japanese star does not appear to have the tools to present any real challenge.
Murray has only faced Nishikori once before and the result was a convincing 6-3, 6-0 success in Shanghai last year.
Although the world number four may struggle to be quite this dominant in Melbourne, his array of shots and strong all-round game should ensure smooth progress.
It is 1/12 in the Australian Open odds that Murray beats Nishikori, but far more rewarding may prove the 1/2 that victory is secured in straight sets.
Following a similar theme, Nishikori’s lack of genuine power and threatening weapons means that he may have difficulty winning more than ten games.
His chances are also hindered by the fact that his tank must be close to running on empty with two of his last three singles games needing a fifth set to find a winner and he has been playing doubles on the side.
Murray should be much fresher, having played no doubles and needing less than one hour to defeat Mikhail Kukushkin in the fourth round.
Therefore, under 30 games in the match represents decent value at 5/6, alongside the 4/1 that Murray takes the first set 6-2, given that Nishikori has lost the first set in all of his last three games.