A ruthless Andy Murray outgunned Frenchman Arnaud Clement 6-2 6-3 to charge into the quarter-finals of the Dubai Championships.
AFP - Britain's world number four Andy Murray ignored the discomfort from a taped right ankle, and a zero win record against Arnaud Clement, to reach the Dubai Open quarter-finals on Wednesday.
Second seed Murray, with ambitions to climbing the rankings further, certainly looked the part during a 6-2, 6-3 win over the experienced Frenchman, suggesting he is recovering from the injury which threatened his participation in the two million dollar tournament.
Murray served superbly when there was any hint of danger, and gradually worked so many different combinations of angle, spin and speed that he seemed to be in charge from about the third game onwards.
"I knew it was important to start well," he said by way of complimenting former top ten player Clement.
"He's a very good returner, and after the first game I served really well."
Murray, who next faces another Frenchman in Richard Gasquet, broke for 2-1 and then again for 5-2, and when he broke again for 2-1 in the second, he was well on top.
Clement fought hard, but the only unexpected delay in Murray's progress came when a spectator chanted 'Clement, Clement,' as Murray was about to serve, causing him to let the ball drop, to turn, and to stare.
The spectator was ushered to one side by three security guards.
For a man complaining that his ankle sometimes hurt at a variety of different movements, Murray's speed and assuredness was remarkable, and he looks capable of taking his game up another level if he required.
He may indeed need to when he plays Gasquet, whom Murray beat from two sets down in front of a patriotically howling British crowd at Wimbledon when they last met.
Gasquet may use the memory to spur him to revenge, though he was not far from losing his chance to do so, standing two points from defeat, 4-5 and a mini-break down in the final set tie-breaker against Simone Bolelli, the world number 36 from Italy.
Gasquet was helped at that moment by a backhand driven wide from Bolelli, but he took advantage courageously on the next point, returning serve well, getting in behind it, and launching a bold smash which clipped the baseline.
Bolelli increased the tension by making an appeal to the Hawkeye computer replay, which failed, but Gasquet was unfazed by the delay, and finished it with a flashing ace.
"I really didn't want to lose," Gasquet said after his 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) victory.
"I fought a lot and I was determined."
Another Frenchman, Fabrice Santoro, the 36-year-old who is playing his last full season on the tour, also won, enjoying his return to the venue where he has some of his best memories.
It was here seven years ago that Santoro appeared for the final in a wheel-chair, having been on a drip in hospital all night - and still won the title.
On Wednesday, he came back from 2-4 down in the final set against Marco Chiudinelli, the Swiss giant-killer who put out seventh seed Ivo Karlovic, to win 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7/1).
A French semi-finalist is now certain, for Santoro next plays Gilles Simon, the third seed from Nice.
Simon followed an uncertain opening performance against the wild card, Mohammed Ghareeb, with a emphatic one, for the loss of only three games, against Teimuraz Gabashvili of Russia.
Date created : 2009-02-25