Murray steps up Madrid campaign with Simon win


Andy Murray cruised into the Madrid Open quarter-finals with a 6-4 6-2 win over Gilles Simon on Thursday.

Murray had struggled to get the better of Radek Stepanek in his tournament opener, but looked much more assured against the French 16th seed.

David Ferrer or Tomas Berdych await in the last eight as Murray chases a tournament win that would provide vital momentum ahead of the French Open and maintain his position in second place in the ATP rankings.

Murray also provided a glimpse of the performances that took the title in Madrid last year, the defending champion stepping up a gear following a three-setter with veteran Stepanek.

Simon had played himself into the contest well, but Murray displayed all of his versatility at 5-4 up in the opening set.

A drop shot brought Simon to the net, allowing Murray to clip a stunning backhand winner across court and the second seed rushed two unforced errors out of the Frenchman to take a one-set lead.

That game came in a run of five consecutive Murray wins to straddle the sets and put Murray on course for victory.

After forcing his opponent into an unforced error with ceaseless defensive shots, Murray set up break point by snapping a slow rally with a brutal backhand that Simon could only spoon long, with pressure on the Frenchman's second serve giving the Brit an early break.

Murray did well to maintain his focus after a lengthy delay as a crowd member was taken ill when he led 4-2, and wrapped up the win with a cheeky exchange at the net to ease into the next round.