Top seed Andy Murray made his way into the quarter-finals of the China Open with a well-fought win over Andrey Kuznetsov 6-2, 6-1. Murray will meet his compatriot and Davis Cup team mate Kyle Edmund in the quarter-finals.
The match began with a grueling game in which Kuznetsov broke Murray's serve. Murray looked to be quickly getting back on track as he reeled off the next three games, but flashes of brilliance from the Russian gave him the break back. Neither player was serving very well so the breaks weren't surprising, but Murray's far superior returning meant he dominated the Kuznetsov serve and took the first set 6-2. The second set was much of the same, but Murray improved on serve and continued to dominate the return as he eased his way to victory, not allowing Kuznetsov a single hold of serve.
Kuznetsov made his attacking intentions clear in the first game of the match. He used his powerful groundstrokes to push Murray back and gain the upper hand in the points and finished off the points with a couple of perfect drop shots. The Russian got the break in the opening game on his third break point to take an early lead. His lead didn't last long as Murray recovered well in the next game to get the break straight back. Murray then moved back in front with an easy hold of serve sealed with an ace to lead 2-1.
A huge forehand crosscourt return winner set up another break point for Murray, but Kuznetsov brought out some scorching forehands of his own to dictate the next point and erase it. Murray kept pushing and Kuznetsov seemed to lose the consistency he had in the opening few games as he was unable to string enough good points together to hold, and Murray reeled off his third straight game.
The number one seed was in danger again in his next service game as he went 0-30 down. Kuznetsov managed to find his range again and set up another two break points. Murray saved them both with some bullying play and a couple of great pickups, but a gorgeous drop volley from Kuznetsov brought up another. A huge unreturnable serve from the Brit followed by an ace erased the danger for then but a bad drop shot that landed in the net gave Kuznetsov another break of serve.
Murray was yet to allow Kuznetsov to get a hold of serve, and that pattern continued as the number one seed broke again with a passing shot to once again go ahead in the opening set. A much welcomed easy hold to love then followed for Murray as the Brit went 5-2 ahead. The Russian still couldn't find a way through a hold of serve, and Murray broke again to take the opener 6-2.
Easing to victory
Kuznetsov couldn't find the form he had in the opening game of the first set and Murray held with ease. The Russian was looking as if the huge effort he put into the opening few games of the match had cost him and he was running out of steam as Murray continued to cruise through return games and raced to a 2-0 lead.
The second set followed the same pattern as the first, and just when Murray seemed to be back on track, the break back was handed back to Kuznetsov with the help of a couple of Murray double faults.
The breaks continued as Murray again went ahead, and this time, he managed to consolidate to go 4-1 ahead. The Brit then raised his level to break the Kuznetsov serve for the seventh time and held with ease to seal the second set 6-1 and make his way into the quarter-finals.