Andy Murray moved into the quarter finals of the BNP Paribas Open after a gripping 7-6(4), 6-4 victory over the resilient Carlos Berlocq.
Murray had to dig deep to overcome his heavy hitting opponent, twice having to come from a break down in the opening set as he attempted to live with the Argentinian. But as the match went on the US Open champion started to assert his dominance, fired up by Berlocq’s excessive grunting, and battled his way to a hard-fought straight set victory.
The Argentinian came out of the gate all guns blazing and Murray was quickly on the back foot. Some heavy hitting pushed Murray way behind the baseline and in the third game the pressure finally told; the raw power from Berlocq forcing the Brit into a mis-hit on the first break point to give the Argentinian the early advantage.
Murray looked to respond immediately, carving out two break back points in the following game. But Berlocq saved well – the first opening up the court with a big first serve, the second with a blistering backhand winner from well out of court, drawing loud gasps from the crowd on Stadium 2. The Argentinian held after the third seed hit a second serve return long, and the frustration from the Brit was palpable.Read more (519 words)
But Murray continued to put pressure on his South American opponent, and after a solid hold he launched another attack on the Berlocq serve. The aggression went up a notch and this time the Brit did break back – carving out more break points after a stunning backhand pass, before Berlocq netted to allow Murray back into the match.
The Argentinian would not relent, however, and after another barrage of heavy groundstrokes he forced another break point at 4-4. And after a marathon game, the South American eventually sealed the crucial break with a blistering return. Murray was struggling to live with the power of Berlocq, who just wasn’t missing.
But Murray wasn’t out of it yet. Firing himself up, he managed to break the Argentinian straight back; chasing down a drop shot and slamming a forehand past Berlocq. The lion was roaring, and he followed that up with a love game courtesy of some scorching forehands to edge ahead 6-5. It was clear the intensity in Murray’s game had gone up a notch, and both players were now going toe-to-toe from the baseline as the set moved into a tie-break.
And it was Murray who took the initiative, edging into a 3-1 lead with the aid of a Berlocq double fault. But the Brit handed the advantage straight back with a careless shot that floated beyond the baseline, and Berlocq was able to peg him back level. But the Scot was persistent, and after digging out two set points his opponent fired an overhead long to hand Murray the first set.
The momentum was now all with the Brit - managing to break in the opening game of the second set after Berlocq narrowly missed with a powerful forehand, before consolidating with an ace. But Berlocq wasn’t beaten just yet, and as Murray’s concentration dipped the Argentinian was able to break back, aided by a number of errors from the Brit. And although he managed to create two break points in the following game, Berlocq saved again with some massive groundstrokes to edge ahead in the second set.
The world number three was looking to regain the advantage and at 3-3 he forged out more break points after a scintillating point; firing a backhand to one corner before negotiating a difficult slice volley deep into the corner, spinning away from Berlocq’s outstretched racquet. And this time he did break; picking Berlocq off with an inch perfect lob after the Argentinian rushed the net.
The topsy-turvy nature of the match continued, and Berlocq found himself with an immediate break back point. But Murray’s response was impeccable; fending off the danger with his eighth ace and some solid defence to bring himself within touching distance of the quarter finals. And the Scot sealed the victory on his first match point, letting out a roar of delight after a Berlocq forehand flashed long.
In the quarter-finals Murray will face the seventh seed Juan Martin Del Potro, who thrashed the 19th seed Tommy Haas 6-1, 6-2. These two haven't met since 2009, where Murray prevailed in three sets at the World Tour Finals.