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Birthday Boy Murray Reaches Rome QFs

Rome, Italy

Murray© Getty ImagesAndy Murray celebrated his 27th birthday with victory over Jurgen Melzer.

It was a happy 27th birthday for Andy Murray on Thursday in Rome as he reached the quarter-finals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia with a 7-6(1), 6-4 victory over Jurgen Melzer.

The Scot will face defending champion and World No. 1 Rafael Nadal on Friday, after the Spaniard defeated Mikhail Youzhny. It will be their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting since the end of 2011, when Murray won in the Tokyo final.

“I'd love to play against him,” Murray told Sky Sports. “It will be a great match for me with the French Open just around the corner, because I'll see exactly where my game's at and what I need to improve. I haven't played him for a long time, regardless of the last time on clay. I didn't play him at all when Ivan [Lendl] was coaching me. Both of our games will have changed in the last three years.”

In recording his sixth win in six meetings with Melzer, Murray rallied from an early break down and played a near-perfect tie-break to clinch the opener. He relinquished an early break lead midway through the second set, but broke the Austrian again before serving out victory in one hour and 42 minutes.

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Coming off a third-round exit at the Mutua Madrid Open, where he was beaten by Santiago Giraldo, Murray said he was hoping to find more consistency in his game at the Foro Italico. “There were bits last week where I was not good at all, I was very inconsistent,” said the Dunblane native.

“This week I wanted to play solid tennis as much as possible. I did a pretty good job today. [Without the wind] it was a lot easier to build the points and have a specific game plan. I did a decent job. There's some things I'd like to do better. [Clay] is a surface that takes me time to get used to the movement.”

Grigor Dimitrov avenged last week's third-round loss in Madrid, as he rallied to defeat sixth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-2 in two hours and 25 minutes. Dimitrov, the No. 12 seed, dropped serve just once and converted five of his 13 break point opportunities in recording his sixth win over a Top 10 opponent. He also defeated Andy Murray earlier this season in Rotterdam.

"The most important thing was the win for me today," said Dimitrov. "It was very nice to bounce back from my loss in Madrid to Tomas. Today, everything went my way. It's always a battle when I play Tomas, but coming into the third set it was a totally different story and it made my day.

"I think I've proven that I can compete at a high level. It's what I've been working for, to win matches like that and play decent tennis. [In my mind] it's not an upset, it's just a good day at the office for me. I think I've learned a little bit since last week when I played him. I competed really hard."

The 22-year-old Bulgarian broke a string of five straight third-round exits at Masters 1000 tournaments, advancing to the quarter-finals for a second time at this level. In his one previous outing, last year in Monte-Carlo, he lost to Rafael Nadal. On Friday, he will play 36-year-old German and World No. 19 Tommy Haas.

Dimitrov has a 25-7 record this season, highlighted by titles in Acapulco and Bucharest.

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