MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Andy Murray couldn't quite remember the last time he smashed a racket. Or maybe he just has a bad memory.
But he certainly didn't forget how to crack the frame with one lethal strike after wasting four match points at the end of the third set of his fourth-round win over Stephane Robert at the Australian Open on Monday.
There's an art to smashing a racket properly, he said.
"A lot of guys sort of hold it by the throat and kind of throw it face down. That's how you would throw it if you didn't want to break the racket," he said. "Whereas if you just kind of go flat with the frame or if you just hit the frame like that, the racket's gone straight away."
Murray's racket was gone straight away, not unlike the way he smashed his racket at last year's U.S. Open when he lost in straight sets to Stanislas Wawrinka.
"I don't feel like I killed it, but it won't be getting used again," he said of Monday's effort. "Sometimes it's necessary."
The source of Murray's irritation was his loss of focus during the third set of his match against Robert, a No. 119-ranked journeyman who was the first "lucky loser" to reach the fourth round at the Australian Open.
Murray had cruised through the first two sets, but in the third, he suddenly couldn't win a point on the Frenchman's serve. He double-faulted on game point — twice. And then he double-faulted on match point, one of four match points he blew before Robert captured the set in a tiebreaker to force a deciding fourth set.
Murray had 27 unforced errors in the third set, compared to just four in the first. But he rallied in the fourth the close out a 6-1, 6-2, 6-7 (6), 6-2 win.