Murray stays on course to face Federer

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Roger Federer and Andy Murray moved towards a possible semi-final showdown at the Cincinnati Masters after contrasting third-round victories last night.

The Swiss World No 1 had to come from 3-1 down in the final set to beat Spaniard David Ferrer 3-6 6-3 6-4, while number two Murray joined him in the quarter-finals with a 6-4 6-1 hammering of Czech Radek Stepanek.

Ferrer had won just one set in eight previous meetings with Federer but it was the top seed whose game was all over the place early on. A blustery wind caused both players trouble but after trading early breaks Ferrer broke again in the eighth game and served out for the opening set.

Federer pulled himself together in the second set to level the match but a real surprise looked possible when he was broken and trailed 3-1 in the decider. He broke back immediately and from that point on there was only going to be one winner, with a beautiful backhand top-spin lob sealing the vital break in the eighth game. "I didn't think I was going to [turn it around] because I thought David was playing a great match," Federer said.

"I think at the beginning maybe my footwork was just a touch off. After that I think I got it together and started to play better and better." Federer will play Lleyton Hewitt next after the Australian saw off American Sam Querrey 6-1 2-6 6-3.

Murray was on top of his game as he destroyed the hopes of World No 17 Stepanek in just 76 minutes. The Czech recovered from 5-2 down to get back on serve at 5-4 but Murray broke again to win the set thanks to a stunning top-spin lob on the run, before blitzing through the second. "I started the match very well," Murray said. "Then the wind picked up at the end of the first set and he managed to break me.

"But I played a good game to break back. I played a couple of good returns and a lob to finish with was nice. After that, I started to feel a lot better but it was tough – very, very windy."

Murray will play Julien Benneteau in the last eight after the Frenchman became only the third lucky loser to reach the quarter-finals of a tournament in the open era, beating Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 4-6 6-4 7-6.

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