DUBAI – Andy Murray said he was getting closer to his brilliant best as the top seed hammered Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-2, 6-0 to surge into the quarter-finals of the Dubai Championships on Wednesday.
The world number one’s rapid victory lined up a Thursday meeting with Philipp Kohlschreiber after the German beat Russian Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-4.
“It was very tough at the start, we both had chances in those early games,” the Scot Murray, who has never won the Dubai showpiece, said.
“I played very well. I served better today than in the previous round.
“I’m certainly playing better than I did at the start of the year. Everything worked well tonight.
“I moved well and played offensive. I was focused throughout. I didn’t give any cheap points away.”
Murray and second-round victim Garcia-Lopez had not faced off since 2012, with the Spaniard winning their last meeting at Indian Wells.
But there was never a hint of a repeat.
After the first four games lasting half an hour, the pace picked with Murray winning the first set.
He tightened his grip, losing just one point on his serve in the second set on his way to a dominant victory.
Gael Monfils held off Britain’s hard-charging Dan Evans with a gutsy 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 victory.
The Frenchman, one of the most colourful showmen in tennis, is playing in the Emirate for only the second time in his career after a first-round loss in 2008.
The world number 12 moves into a clash with Spain’s Fernando Verdasco, who needed almost two and a half hours to overcome Spanish sixth seed Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.
“Verdasco is a very tough player with a huge forehand,” Monfils said. “I’ll have to run a lot.”
The fourth seed was motoring against the 43rd-ranked Evans, a finalist at the start of the season in Sydney, up a set and a break.
But the Briton lifted his game and rose to the occasion as he began a fightback to take the match level at a set each.
Monfils stepped up a gear in the decisive third set.
“It was a great match,” he said. “In the second set he started really going for his shots.
“I had to try and control him, I finally found a way to win.”
French seventh seed Lucas Pouille joined Monfils in the quarters, defeating Marius Copil 6-1, 6-4.