• Miami Masters

Murray vows to stay vigilant after injury scare

ESPN staff
March 25, 2014
Andy Murray has now won nine of his ten matches against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga © Getty Images

Andy Murray set up a Miami Masters quarter-final with Novak Djokovic after dispatching Jo-Wilfried Tsonga but was worryingly forced to call for painkillers for back trouble.

The defending champion stretched his winning streak to nine matches at Key Biscayne, beating Tsonga 6-4 6-1 in only 73 minutes.

However, five games into the encounter, Murray pulled up with a sharp pain in his left hip in a worrying echo of the problems he suffered before undergoing minor back surgery last September, which caused him to miss nearly four months.

But Murray explained: "It's a bit different [than last year]. The one thing I've learned the last few years is that everything can be linked. Stiff hips can cause back pain. A tight back can cause neck pain and all sorts so I need to stay on top of it."

The win set up a meeting on Wednesday with Djokovic, in what will be their first encounter since Murray won the Wimbledon final last summer.

"I've played the biggest matches of my career against Novak so it's going to be a little bit more special than other matches," said Murray.

"I've won against him in the tournaments where I've had my biggest successes: my first Masters series in Cincinnati, the Olympics, the US Open and Wimbledon. And there have obviously been some disappointing ones too, like the Australian Open finals."

Murray now holds a 9-1 head-to-head record against Tsonga. An early break was enough to set up victory in the opening set, before Murray moved into cruise control in the second.

The British No.1 won 14 points in a row to set up his first of three match points, but Tsonga saved the first with a volley at the net.

Tsonga then saved the second in bizarre circumstances. A crosscourt backhand was called long and the players were at the net ready to shake hands when Hawkeye proved the call to be incorrect.

But seconds later a riveting passing shot saw Murray into the quarter-finals. "My game is getting there," said Murray. "The last six sets I've played, very high-level tennis, very few errors."

Novak Djokovic secured a hard-fought win over Tommy Robredo © AP

He'll need to keep it that way against Djokovic, who eased past Tommy Robredo 6-3 7-5.

No.2 seed Djokovic even gave back a point in the second set. A groundstroke from Robredo clipped the baseline and Djokovic couldn't handle it, but the ball was erroneously called out. After a review showed the ball was in, the point was ordered to be replayed.

Djokovic shouted "It's OK, it's OK" as the fans applauded his sportsmanship.

"For me, it's something that is part of the sport, fair play," Djokovic said. "I expect everybody else to do the same. Of course, not everybody's the same, but for me, that's something that's normal. Just a normal, natural reaction."

Singles players with a combined 66 grand slam victories were in action on Tuesday, including Roger Federer - a winner of 17 of them himself. He looked very much like the Federer of old, needing only 49 minutes to beat ninth-seeded Richard Gasquet 6-1 6-2.

"Look, things went well out on the court today," Federer said, clearly understating matters.

Federer, the No.5 seed, had 25 winners to Gasquet's eight, converted five of his six break chances and won 92 percent of his first-serve points in the second set. Next up for Federer on Wednesday night is 20th-seeded Kei Nishikori, who fought off four match points in the third-set tiebreaker and upset world No.4 David Ferrer 7-6(7) 2-6 7-6(9).

Ferrer had beaten Nishikori in the same round at Key Biscayne a year ago, their most recent meeting before Tuesday. Alexandr Dolgopolov of the Ukraine also pulled off an upset, topping Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4 3-6 6-1 to reach the quarter-finals. Another men's winner was Milos Raonic, who beat Benjamin Becker 6-3 6-4, while Tomas Berdych overcame John Isner 6-3 7-5.

Rafael Nadal headlined the night matches, sealing a comfortable 6-2 6-2 win over Fabio Fognini to book a quarter-final against Raonic.

However the night session was impacted by an unattended backpack left near the main gate.

Nadal and Fognini were warming up when local police announced that the situation had been resolved with the department's bomb squad mitigating a "potential threat".

Rafael Nadal faces Milos Raonic in the quarter-finals © Getty Images
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