Olympic champion Andy Murray restored some order at the Western & Southern Open by cutting down South African giant Kevin Anderson to reach the quarter-finals on an upset-filled Thursday in Cincinnati.
Rafa Nadal and Stan Wawrinka, two of the other headliners at the US Open warm-up event, fell to a pair of young guns on a hot and steamy day on the Ohio hardcourts.
Wimbledon champion Murray, who clutched at his right shoulder after going an early break down to trail 3-2 in the first set, soon snapped into focus to run off four games in a row on his way to a 6-3 6-2 victory.
Showing off his dazzling variety of shots and remarkable court coverage, Murray extended his winning streak to 20 with his 600th career victory on the ATP Tour.
The Scot said breaking back straight away was vital.
“It was big, obviously,” Murray said. “When you’re playing against big servers they tend to be front runners, so for me to get the break back immediately was key and it got the momentum back.”
Third-seeded Nadal, showing fatigue following a busy Olympic schedule that included a gold medal in doubles, was a step off the pace and paid the price against 19-year-old Borna Coric of Croatia, who reached the last eight with a 6-1 6-3 win.
Elsewhere, Grigor Dimitrov eliminated sluggish second seed Wawrinka, the Bulgarian making the most of a single break of serve in each set to win 6-4 6-4 and book his berth in the quarters.
Australian Bernard Tomic, 23, notched yet another upset with a 7-6(1) 7-6(5) win over fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan, who had won the bronze medal match in Rio over Nadal.
Tomic’s next assignment will be against Murray, who owns a 4-0 advantage over the Australian in head-to-head encounters. Coric advanced to his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final, dominating 14-times grand slam winner Nadal by reeling off 10 straight games to claim the opening set and lead 4-0 in the second.
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