ANDY Murray fought back from a set down to edge past John Isner and reach the quarter-finals of the Shanghai Rolex Masters.
The British No 1 dropped the first set on a tie-break before being run close by the 30-year-old American and holding on to record a 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-4 victory.
The 28-year-old took his record to 5-0 against his big-hitting opponent to set up a last-eight clash with No 5 seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic who defeated Frenchman Gilles Simown 6-3, 6-3.
Murray’s four previous wins over Isner had all gone to three sets and this one was no different. Isner had multiple break chances in the match, including two when Murray was serving for the second set at 5-4. The Scot saved the first break point with a drop shot Isner couldn’t reach and the second with a second-serve ace up the middle that prompted the American to rip off his hat in anger and throw it to the ground.
It was Isner’s ninth straight loss to a top-10 opponent.
“It’s disappointing because I did have some chances and I didn’t take them,” Isner said. “If I want to take that next step, I’ve got to do that, and I didn’t. And it’s happened a lot.”
Novak Djokovic reached the quarter-finals with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Feliciano Lopez of Spain.
The top-seeded Serbian player earned his 14th straight victory dating back to the US Open and has now won 16 sets in a row. He’s been winning so convincingly since the start of the China Open last week, he hasn’t surrendered more than five games in a single match.
“You can’t just expect to win all the time very comfortably, but I’ve been doing so for the last week and a half,” he said. “Obviously it’s giving me more confidence.”
On a day when 14 of the world’s top 17 players were playing, Rafael Nadal defeated Canada’s Milos Raonic 6-3, 7-6 (3).
Sixth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan, meanwhile, was knocked out by South Africa’s Kevin Anderson 7-6 (10), 7-6 (3).
Lopez, who lost to Djokovic in the quarter-finals of last month’s US Open, tried to disrupt the Serbian star’s rhythm by serving and volleying and using a variety of drop shots, sliced backhands and sharp angles.
Djokovic, however, played a superb defensive game and continually scrambled after Lopez’s shots for winners. During one point in the second set, Lopez chased down a volley and hit an angled shot around the post into the open court only to watch Djokovic stab at the ball and float a lob over his head.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France also advanced to the quarter-finals with a 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4 win over Spanish qualifier Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who ousted Roger Federer in the second round.