Murray struggles into Dubai quarter-finals

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The Independent Online

Andy Murray earned a tortured 6-3 3-6 7-6 victory over Fernando Verdasco to reach the quarter-finals of the Dubai Championships today.

Anyone expecting him to sail past the Spanish left-hander after he had earlier beaten Roger Federer was disappointed. The Scot had to battle both the wind and an adventurous opponent for almost two and a half hours before securing victory on his fourth match point.

Federer had accused Murray of often waiting for his opponent to make errors rather than going for winners and the Scot was guilty of that for most of the match. Verdasco was by far the more aggressive player but he lacked consistency on his powerful forehand.

"It wasn't the best match I've played but it was pretty rough conditions out there," Murray told reporters. "It was really windy and I didn't hit the ball cleanly at all.

"I think it's the first leftie I've played all year and it takes a little while to get used to their spins and the way the serve's moving. So I definitely struggled today but I'm really happy with the way that I fought to win a match like that."

Murray looked flat at the start and it was only when he faced a break point at 2-2 that he jerked into life and began to compete more aggressively. He then broke for 4-2 when his opponent double-faulted and, after holding off two more break points in the next game, he went on to take the set.

A break for 2-0 and two break points saved in the next game gave Verdasco a 3-0 lead in the second set and, although Murray recovered the break in the seventh game, Verdasco broke once more for 5-3.

In the final set, Murray held off two break points at 1-1, broke for 4-2 but then netted a forehand to concede his serve in the next game.

Verdasco held a break point at 5-5 but netted a volley, before Murray controlled the tiebreak, building a 6-2 lead before closing out the match by winning a protracted rally.

"It was a pretty ugly point, actually," said Murray of the final point. "I was just making sure I kept the ball in play, because I think he's the sort of guy, if you can make a lot of balls against him, keep him in the back of the court, he can get a bit impatient and luckily he missed one at the end."

Murray will now face fifth-seeded Russian Nikolay Davydenko. They have played five times before, with Murray winning the last three, including a semi-final earlier this year on the way to his Doha title.