Andy Murray dug extremely deep to defeat Ernests Gulbis 4-6 6-3 7-6 and advance to the quarter-finals of the Cincinnati Masters.
Gulbis has undoubtedly progressed as a tennis player in 2010, and his swashbuckling, gung ho brand of tennis was always likely to pose problems to Murray, if Gulbis was able to land his punches. As expected, it was the youngster who assumed the dominant role in the rallies, hurting Murray on several occasions with his lethal forehand. The sheer heat and humidity in Ohio, coupled with the rapid court speed, meant that Murray was having to work incredibly hard just to stay in the points.
The Scot had no answers as they both came out of the blocks, and Gulbis raced to a double break and a 4-1 lead. Despite dropping serve, Gulbis remained calm and did not flinch a second time when serving for the set. Murray had played seven matches in the last eight days by this point, and it seemed plausible that perhaps the fourth seed was flagging physically.Read more (228 words)
Britain's number one was missing the awe-inspiring repertoire of tricks and aggressive swagger that flowed through his veins in Toronto. Routine mid-court forehands were being dumped into the net, and halfway through the second set, Murray was staring right down the barrel of a straight sets defeat.
After seemingly berating himself verbally and punching his solar plexus for the 100th time, the Briton finally sparked into life somewhat, and managed to pressure Gulbis into some much sought after errors. The Latvian had been playing some stellar tennis, and Murray could consider himself somewhat fortunate to grab the second set.
Murray carved out a lead in the final set, but frustratingly, it was handed back immediately, and as the set grew older, Gulbis took the ascendancy, holding more comfortably as his more illustrious opponent struggled to fend off break points. Murray's groundstrokes were functioning rather poorly, but there was no question that his dogmatic attitude and will to win was carrying him through to the tie-break.
And, with the tie-break came the surprisingly predictable renaissance from Murray. He upped the length on his groundstrokes and remained watertight to build a 6-1 lead, and after a few loose points, sealed the victory, and a hard fought victory at that.
The American wild-card, Mardy Fish will await Murray in the quarter-finals. Fish disposed of Richard Gasquet earlier today in straight sets.