Top-seeded Andy Murray stayed on course for a record-tying fourth title at Queen’s Club by defeating Fernando Verdasco 7-5, 6-4 in the second round on Thursday.
Murray is attempting to join John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt as a four-time winner.
Verdasco wasted four break points in Murray’s first two service games in the second set, but the Spaniard was broken in the final game when he hit a backhand wide on Murray’s second match point.
“I thought it was fine,” Murray said of his performance. “I felt like I dug myself out of a few difficult situations when I was behind on my serve.
Defending champion Grigor Dimitrov lost to Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-4, 7-6 (7/5). The sixth-seeded Dimitrov won the title last year by defeating Feliciano Lopez, but has failed to reach a final since. He was bidding to successfully defend a title for the first time in his career.
In a match of few rallies in which Muller had 19 aces and Dimitrov 15, the Bulgarian double-faulted at 5-4 in the first set, and made a forehand error to give Muller the only break of the match and the first set.
Dimitrov saved a break point at 2-1 in the second with a backhand winner down the line, but Muller was stronger in the tiebreaker.
“I don’t think I’m playing bad tennis at the moment,” Dimitrov said. “I just am doing a lot of good things on the court which really don’t discourage me to play. Of course, it’s a tough loss for me, but I give credit to Gilles. He played a good match.”
In another big-serve show, in which John Isner hit 36 aces and Feliciano Lopez 29, Isner made the quarter-finals with a 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (9/11), 7-6 (7/4) victory.
Lopez earned the first break point of the match at 5-4 in the second set, and although Isner saved the set when Lopez returned wide, the Spaniard went on to save two match points and claim the second tiebreaker on his fourth set point.
Isner earned two more match points at 5-4 in the final set, before securing victory in the tiebreaker on his sixth match point.
Fourth-seeded Marin Cilic failed in his bid to repeat his 2012 title run when the Croatian was defeated by Serbia’s Viktor Troicki 6-7 (8/10), 6-2, 6-3. Troicki did not drop his serve and broke Cilic three times.
Japan’s Kei Nishikori reached the Halle grass-court quarter-finals for the second successive year on Thursday, recording his 36th win of the season by beating Germany’s Dustin Brown 7-5, 6-1.
Second seeded Nishikori faces Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz, who reached his first grass-court quarter-final in two years by beating last year’s runner-up Alejandro Falla 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.
“It was a great match for me. All the important points I played well,” Nishikori said. “I was just waiting for one chance in the first set because I know I was playing well and he was hitting some great shots; there was nothing I could do. So, I was just waiting for the moment and at 6-5, I took some risks and I did what I had to do.”
Andreas Seppi broke a four-match losing streak against fifth seed Tommy Robredo in their 11th meeting to win 6-2, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3.
France’s Gael Monfils also made the last eight by seeing off Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan 7-6 (7/1), 6-4 and next faces Seppi.
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