Andy Murray produced his best performance of the clay court season after defusing the power of 21-year old Russian Karen Khachanov to reach the quarter-finals at the French Open.
Murray, who will meet Kei Nishikori in the last eight, appears to have rediscovered some of the form which saw him reach the final in Paris 12 months ago and, after struggling through his opening two matches, he now looks capable of repeating last year’s impressive run.
The Brit was rarely troubled as he recorded a comfortable 6-3 6-4 6-4 victory over Khachanov- who is considered one of the game’s rising stars.
On his way to the fourth round, the 6 ft 6 Russian defeated Tomas Berdych and John Isner, however his game leaked too many errors – 38 in total - to trouble Murray.
At two hours and four minutes, this was Murray’s shortest match of the tournament so far and, after two straight set victories, he should go into the latter stages with renewed confidence.
Assured Murray looks back to his best
Khachanov, the world number 53, was playing his first match on the Philippe Chatrier Court but held his serve convincingly in the opening couple pf games.
However, in the sixth game, Murray took control, taking advantage of some loose forehands from the Russian to break for 4-2.
Murray didn’t face a break point in the opening set, as his first serve percentage stayed above the 65 per cent mark throughout the contest.
After breaking Khachanov again at the start of the second, Murray’s forehand briefly went AWOL as he lost his serve for the first time, allowing the Russian to draw level at 3-3.
Too many errors from the Russian
Even so, Khachanov donated the break straight back, making four errors in the next game, including a double fault.
Murray wasn’t so generous, as he quickly secured a two-set lead with an hour and 20 minutes on the clock.
Khachanov continued to go on the attack with his flat and powerful groundstrokes, however he couldn’t break down Murray’s robust defences.
Murray extracted more errors from the Russian’s racquet at 4-4 in the third set before serving out the match with relative ease.
Nishikori recovers to beat Verdasco
Next, Murray will face eighth seed Nishikori, who recovered from a disastrous first set to beat Spaniard Fernando Verdasco.
The Japanese star looked all over the place at the start of the match but eventually recovered to win 0-6 6-4 6-4 6-0.
Elsewhere, third seed Stan Wawrinka knocked out the last Frenchman in the men’s singles draw, defeating home favourite Gael Monfils 7-5 7-6 (7) 6-2.
Seventh seed Marin Cilic also progressed to the last eight after opponent Kevin Anderson retired in the second set.
In the women’s draw, fifth seed Elina Svitolina battled back from a set down to beat Croatia’s Petra Martic 4-6 6-3 7-5.
Second seed Karolina Pliskova and 2014 runner-up Simona Halep also reached the last eight, while Caroline Garcia beat compatriot Alizé Cornet in an all French clash.