The four top seeds safely advanced into the quarter-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Wednesday, with victories for Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych.
Djokovic edged closer to his 50th career title with a 6-1 6-2 win over Andrey Golubev, Federer beat Fernando Verdasco 6-4 6-3, Murray strolled past Joao Sousa 6-0 6-2 and Berdych worked hard to claim his 500th career singles victory with a 7-6(7) 5-7 6-0 win over Simone Bolelli.
Djokovic looked far more positive than in his opening match and claimed his place in the quarter-finals in exactly an hour.
“More comfortable than yesterday, that's for sure,” said Djokovic. “Basically I didn't have as much pressure from the opponent's serve as I did last night. Having one match under my belt helped to feel a bit more comfortable to move around on the court quicker, and I tried to take away the time from my opponent today. I tried to be aggressive, step in.”
Federer was placed under early pressure by Verdasco, who won the first three games and led 4-1 before the six-time Dubai champion reeled off an incredible 20 straight points to turn the match around.
“I'm very happy how the match went,” said Federer. “I think it was a good quality match from my side. I think Fernando played well for spells, but I think I was quite consistent. Fernando is a shot maker and he takes it out of your racquet sometimes. So I'm still very, very pleased the way I played out here tonight.”
Murray wrapped up his 6-0 6-2 victory in just 57 minutes, dropping only two games in a match for the first time since his second round, three-set win over Blaz Rola at Wimbledon last year.
The Scot swept the first eight games against his error-prone opponent, giving up just 10 points in the opening set and, although Sousa made more of an impact in the second set, Murray went on to claim a comfortable win.
“I thought I just picked the right shots and played the right way when he was struggling,” said Murray. “I didn't give him any free points. I didn't make, you know, just sort of needless errors. He was getting more frustrated because he couldn't get any free points and then was going for more and more shots and obviously making more errors because of it.”
Berdych saved a set point before winning the first set tiebreak, lost his concentration after a disputed line-call two points from the end of the second set and then finally managed to take control of the match in the third.
“It was a hard day in the office,” said Berdych. “Yeah, it was not easy at all, but then in the end after two sets which were very close, then I took my chances and started to play finally my game and get a bit more to the rhythm, start to serve better. So I need to take the positives from the match, which was definitely the third set. It's another win.”
In other matches, Richard Gasquet saved a match point as he edged through 6-4 3-6 7-6(6) against Roberto Bautista Agut, and Sergiy Stakhovsky defeated Denis Istomin 6-4 3-6 6-4. Borna Coric advanced after Marcos Baghdatis served for the match at 5-4 in the second set and then retired with cramp at 4-4 in the final set tiebreak, winning 6-4 3-6 6-6 in just four minutes short of three hours.
There was also success for Turkish qualifier Marsel Ilhan, who claimed a stunning 3-6 7-5 6-3 victory over sixth seed and two-time former Dubai finalist Feliciano Lopez. The 27-year old who resides in Istanbul will now compete in the biggest match of his life when he faces world number one, Wimbledon, Australian Open and four-time Dubai champion Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.
“We have seen great excitement once again as first Tomas Berdych and then Roger Federer were placed under pressure by very talented opponents,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of Dubai Duty Free, the tournament owners and organizers. “We can look forward to more competitive matches as the week progresses, and it will be very interesting in the coming days to see who will eventually emerge as the winner.”
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, continues until 28th February.
Limited tickets are available for purchase at the Box Office at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, Garhoud which opens from 9am to 9pm daily. For further information about tickets, prices and the tournament visit www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com.