ANDY Murray outlasted world No 16 Gilles Simon of France in a late-night marathon to reach the quarter-finals of the Madrid Open hours after Roger Federer’s shock defeat to Japan’s
Kei Nishikori meant the Scot will return to No 2 in the world rankings.
It was 1.18am local time when Murray finally subdued the challenge of Simon, coming back from a set and a break down to prevail 8-6 in a deciding tiebreak for a gruelling 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 win.
Murray was all at sea in a poor opening set and was initially in trouble in the second before a brilliant series of foreheads got him back in the match.
He took thie match into a decider and always seemed on course to win but the Frenchman refused to buckle and saved three match points to force a final set tiebreak. He saved a further three match points but netted a volley to hand Murray victory.
The Scot will now face Czech world No 6 Tomas Berdych in the last eight today.
Earlier, despite a second-set fightback, No 2 seed Federer was too often below his best form and succumbed in an hour and 35 minutes to end his first tournament back after a two-month break. Nishikori led by a break in the first set and, although
Federer held serve at 3-5 to keep himself in the set, he fired a backhand into the stand at
set point as Nishikori took a shock lead.
Federer responded in predictable style, by winning the second set 6-1 but Nishikori broke in the fourth game of the deciding set to edge ahead once more. He held to lead 4-1 and then 5-2 and, after a pair of unforced errors from Federer set up match point, the Japanese player completed the break to wrap up a 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 win.
The win set up a quarter-final for Nishikori against wildcard Pablo Andujar, who progressed when fellow Spaniard Daniel
Gimeno-Traver was forced to retire at 5-5 in the first set.
Fifth seed Rafael Nadal, in contrast to Federer, was scarcely troubled in beating Mikhail Youzhny 6-2, 6-3. Berdych beat Kevin Anderson 7-6 (7/5), 7-5, while France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, seeded seventh, battled past Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. David Ferrer was also made to work for a 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 win.
In the women’s draw, the top two seeds Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova both progressed to the quarter-finals in straight sets. Williams saw off 13th seed Maria Kirilenko 6-3, 6-1, while Sharapova beat
German Sabine Lisicki 6-2, 7-5.