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Murray Sets Wawrinka QF Clash; Monaco, Tipsarevic Win Openers

Tokyo, Japan

Monaco© AFP/Getty ImagesJuan Monaco saved all four break points he faced against Grigor Dimitrov.

Reigning Tokyo champion Andy Murray needed just 57 minutes to book his place in the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships quarter-finals, overwhelming Lukas Lacko 6-1, 6-2 under a closed roof in Ariake Coliseum on Wednesday.

Murray converted all four of his break point chances, taking 63 per cent of his return points to improve his record against the Slovakian to a 2-0 mark. The Scot has won nine matches in a row, including his US Open triumph that culminated with victory over Novak Djokovic in the final.

“I began the match very well, which was nice because it was long day to get on,” said Murray. “I started the match almost perfect. That was important. Once I got the break in the second set, I started to play better.”

The World No. 3 is seeking to retain a title for the first time this season, having captured five trophies in 2011 and three so far this year. He won an Asian swing hat-trick last year, triumphing in Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai. Murray will face off against Stanislas Wawrinka next and takes a 7-4 career lead into the pair’s 12th clash, defeating the Swiss No. 2 most recently on his way to winning gold at the London 2012 Olympics.

“He had a good US Open and did well in Cincinnati,” said Murray. “I think hard courts are a good surface for him. I’ve had a lot of tough matches with him over the years, especially on the hard courts. I would expect the same on Friday.”

The seventh-seeded Wawrinka became the first player to move through to the quarter-finals after battling past Jeremy Chardy 7-6(1), 6-7(6), 7-5. Wawrinka hit 19 aces and won 55 of his 59 first serve points, including all 16 in the final set. “I usually serve well, especially indoors when the courts are a bit faster,” said Wawrinka. “It was quite good today. I was changing the rhythm a lot and the speed as well. That helped me to be really aggressive after the serve.”

Fourth seed Juan Monaco raced into the second round dismissing qualifier Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-1. Entering the tournament on the back of his first hard-court triumph in Kuala Lumpur, Monaco carried his recent form against Dimitrov, breaking the Bulgarian five times from seven opportunities. The Argentine saved all four break points he faced to advance in 64 minutes. The World No. 10 improved to a 38-15 season record. Monaco is in contention to qualify for his first season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, tied for 11th place in the South African Airways ATP Rankings Race To London.

Third-seeded Janko Tipsarevic rallied for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory against 18th-ranked Gilles Simon to open his title quest. Tipsarevic won 70 per cent of his return points in the final set to break the Frenchman four times. With the win, World No. 9 Tipsarevic avenged last week’s loss to Simon in the Bangkok semi-finals. Tipsarevic is aiming to win his first ATP World Tour 500 title, having won his third career crown in Stuttgart earlier this year, his first triumph on clay. Ranked ninth in the Race To London with 2,720 points, Tipsarevic trails eighth-placed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga by 185 points. Tsonga is competing in Beijing. 

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