The path for Andy Murray, the No. 2 seed at the Sony Open, has become a little bit friendlier with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal out of the tournament at the Crandon Park Tennis Center in Key Biscayne.
Murray cleared that path a little bit more Saturday when he easily defeated Bernard Tomic of Australia 6-3, 6-1.
Murray, 25, advanced to the fourth round and said Federer and Nadal not being in the field will have little effect on him.
“I have played so many tournaments with everyone playing, but when you know they aren’t going to be here, it obviously changes things a little bit,” he said.
“Yes, for tennis, it’s way better if all of the top players are here. I think we have been very lucky the last few years, especially because a lot of the top players have fulfilled their commitments to all of the big events.
“But it’s going to happen from time to time, and it’s unfortunate for this event that it happened here.”
Murray, born in Scotland, spends much of his time 10 minutes from Crandon Park at his home in the Brickell area. So he is familiar with the South Florida weather, and that gave him an advantage on Saturday.
“I don’t know if he was tired or struggling with the humidity,” Murray said of Tomic. “He was playing pretty low-percentage tennis. With the conditions like they were, that played into my hands.”
Murray, the tourney runner-up last year and the 2009 champ, was the crowd favorite as Tomic received some boos for his play and effort.
“I obviously try to concentrate on my side of the court,” Murray said. “It is tough when you’re behind and making quite a lot of mistakes. I have done it before when my head has gone down and you still want to win, but it doesn’t always appear that way.
“So, I don’t know. The crowd, they’re free to do whatever they want. The pay the money and they can greet players however they would like.”
The biggest obstacle facing Murray in this tournament? That would be No. 1 seed and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic. The two have met 18 times, with Djokovic winning 11 of the matches.
However, Murray is not worrying about Djokovic — at least not yet. The immediate future is his concern, and that would be his next opponent, Grigor Dimitrov of Hungary, in his fourth-round match.
Serena Williams, 31, has held the women’s world No. 1 ranking for 129 weeks total. She has held that ranking since Feb. 18, becoming the oldest woman to hold the top spot since the rankings were introduced in November of 1975. She first claimed the No. 1 ranking in July of 2002.
IN THE DARK
When a blackout hit the Sony Open on Friday night, Maria Sharapova was asked what she did to pass the time.
“I was just trying to find a quiet corner where I could rest and just wait it out,” she said. “I have been on the tour for many years and been part of many delays — maybe not a power outage though. But you treat it as maybe a rain delay.”