Andy Murray defeated Spain’s Fernando Verdasco to remain in contention for his fourth title at the prestigious Queen’s Club in London. However, the top-seeded Scot had to fight hard against world no.42 Verdasco in his second round match on Thursday before notching up a straight sets victory. Murray will now take on Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller, who ousted the 2014 champion Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria. At the Gary Weber Open in Halle, Frenchman Gael Monfils reached the quarterfinal after beating Mikhail Kukushkin from Kazakhstan. Despite slipping a few times during his match against the Kazakh, the spectacular Monfils didn’t lose his grip on the match. In other matches at Halle on Thursday that decided the quarterfinal berths; Japan’s Kei Nishikori got past German wild card Dustin Brown in two sets; Poland’s Jerzy Janowics defeated Alejandro Falla of Colombia in three sets and Andreas Seppi of Italy also took three sets in beating Spaniard Tommy Robredo.
Stretching back to 2007, top-seeded Andy Murray faced Fernando Verdasco for the 12th time. The 28-year old Scot finished his 11th win yesterday. But it was their first meeting since the Spaniard had forced Murray to the brink in Wimbledon 2013 quarterfinal. There the Scot had recovered from two sets down to beat Verdasco and went on to win his first ever Wimbledon Title. At Queen’s Club on Thursday, Murray looked in command after Verdasco committed two double-faults in his opening service game. However, Verdasco bounced back with a break in the seventh game to nullify Murray’s early advantage. Verdasco continued to frustrate the three-time champion and just as a tie-break loomed at 6-5, Murray wrested control once again and took the first set 7-5 on his third set point. Murray’s service went haywire in the early stages of the second set and Verdasco had a break point in the opening game. But Murray managed to hold. Later in the third game, Murray was down again 0-40 but recovered with the help of two aces to hold his serve. Afterword, the Scot came on his own and finished the match 7-5, 6-4.
Murray now faces Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller, who upset Bulgaria’s defending champion Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 7-6. The 32-year old Muller sent down 19 aces to 15 by Dimitrov in a match, which didn’t see any long rallies. The first set went on serves until the Bulgarian double-faulted at 5-4 and Muller served out to take the set 6-4. In the second set, Dimitrov saved a break point at 2-1 and the set went on serves once again. In the tiebreak, Muller came out stronger to finish the match 6-4, 7-6.
At the Gary weber Open in Halle, Gael Monfils played an immaculate game against Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin. The unpredictable Monfils surprised the Kazakh on many occasions with his unusual and least expected shots. After the two players took the first set to the tiebreak, Monfils played superbly to win at 7-1. In the second set, Monfils played his best tennis with an ace giving him the match point and a strong volley finishing the match 7-6, 6-4. Next up for Monfils is Italian Andreas Seppi, who defeated Span’s Tommy Robredo 6-2, 6-7, 6-3.
In another match, Kei Nishikori of Japan defeated German Wild Card Dustin Brown to seal his place in the quarterfinal. Brown, who had caused a sensational upset last year by beating Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals, played second fiddle to the Japanese on Thursday. The German played forcefully but riskily in the first set to take the score to 5-5 but Nishikori broke him in the eleventh game and served out to take the first set 7-5. Brown’s game fizzled in the second set and the Japanese raced to a 7-5, 6-1 win in 68 minutes. Nishikori next takes on Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz, who defeated Alejandro Falla of Colombia 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.
In men’s doubles quarterfinal, Mercedes Cup winners India’s Rohan Bopanna and his Rumanian partner Florian Mergea defeated Marin Draganja (Croatia)/Henri Kontinen (Finland) 7-6, 7-6. For the place in the final, the Indo-Romanian pair will have to defeat USA’s Eric Butorac/Scott Lispky, who prevailed over the no.3 seeds Julian Knowle (Austria)/Vasek Pospisil (Canada), 6-7, 6-4, 10-8. In the second men’s doubles semi-final, favorites Jean-Julien Rojer (Netherlands)/Horia Tecau (Rumania) will play against Raven Klaasen (South Africa)/Rajeev Ram (USA).