Brit into last eight in Barcelona after beating the Spaniard in straight sets
WORLD number one Andy Murray booked his place in the quarter-finals of the Barcelona Open with a hard-earned 6-4 6-4 win over Feliciano Lopez.
Murray entered the Spanish tournament to build up match time as he continued his recovery from an elbow injury which saw him return to action last week in Monte Carlo after more than a month on the sidelines.
The 29-year-old Scot had been given a bye through to the second round and then saw Australian Bernard Tomic pull out of their scheduled contest on Wednesday because of a back problem.
The tournament’s top seed, though, eventually got the chance of another workout on clay when taking on Spaniard Lopez, who produced stubborn resistance before Murray eventually produced the required response to progress into the last eight where he will meet either Albert Ramos-Vinolas or Roberto Bautista-Agut.
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The opening set went with serve until Murray finally made the breakthrough in game eight to lead 5-3.
However, veteran Lopez, the world number 40, refused to be brushed aside easily, saving four set points after being 40-15 down before then breaking back himself.
Murray, though, regrouped and forced an immediate break chance in game 10, which Lopez saved with an ace before the British number one took his next opportunity after an hour on court.
Rather than fading, 35-year-old Lopez responded as he forced four break chances against Murray’s serve in game three before the Scot recovered.
Murray’s frustrations were threatening to boil over as he squandered some five break opportunities against Lopez who levelled at 2-2.
However, Murray slowly started to deliver on his serve after moving 4-3 ahead and then to within touching distance of victory at 5-4 following successive love games.
The world number one then kept the pressure on Lopez, and took his second match point chance following a wide back-hand return from the Spaniard.