Andy Murray came back to action after nearly a month off, with the Scot top-seed struggling with unseasonably chilly temperatures to a tight 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 win over American qualifier Tim Smyczek at the Farmers Classic.
Murray began after a frantic week in which he parted company with two of his coaching team, leaving Miles Maclagan and Spain’s Alex Corretja pursuing other interests. But despite retaining his trainer and physio on staff, the Scot had his problems with condition in a match where he converted only seven of 18 break points and never looked entirely comfortable on court in a second round match played in 15 Celsius conditions.
“I’m stiff, I don’t know if it’s the weather or the fact that this is my first match since Wimbledon. It’s to be expected so hopefully it will be OK tomorrow,” said Murray.
“It was a good match with long rallies, we played to a good standard which will hopefully stand me in good stead for the rest of the week.”
Murray swept the first set in 27 minutes but went into a funk in the second and part of the third with breaks in eight of ten games.
The seed got his form back just in time with a break of the inexperienced American in the penultimate game for 5-2 and served out victory with a cross-court winner a game later.
The top-seed will on Friday face a quarterfinal test against Colombian Alejandro Fall, who beat fatigued fifth seed Ernests Gulbis 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (10-8).
Spain’s Feliciano Lopez moved comfortably into the last eight with his defeat of Israeli Dudi Sela 7-6 (7-2), 6-4. He will play James Blake, whose comeback is finally taking form after a year of knee injury problems.
The 31-year-old finally submitted to a regime of painkillers, which have made all the difference to his form. He showed it as he defeated German Benjamin Becker 7-5, 7-6 (7-5).
“I haven’t been in a quarterfinal for a while,” said the former top ten player who now stands a distant 117th, “I hope to go even further, been in final here before (2007), I’d like to take it one step further.
“I knew the match would be tough. He’s played more matches than me this year. But I played some of my better tennis to get through. It’s great to be back.”
“I played well especially in the last set. We were both tired. I’m happy to get through. I’m playing really well right now,” Falla said.
“He helped me a lot in the third set, he gave me chances, and I took them.”
Keywords: Farmers Classic