On a day when the men’s seeds crumbled, Murray closed out the night session in the section of the draw that managed to stay largely intact.
While below him second seed Stan Wawrinka lost to Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric eased ahead of Rafael Nadal, and Marin Cilic gave former coach Goran Ivanisevic something to think about as he beat his new charge Tomas Berdych, Murray managed to rise above the chaos and stay the course – for now.
Despite looking as though he was struggling early on with his shoulder, Murray admitted that the soreness was nothing new, having battled with it on different surfaces.
He said, after his match: “I had similar sort of thing during the clay court season. It was kind of the same, where beginning of the matches just a bit sore and stiff. Gradually warms up as the match goes on.”
With the bottom half of the draw now in disarray, the way is clear for Murray to collect a few more rankings points not to mention getting US hard swing court time ahead of the US Open.
He explained: “I think as well obviously since Wimbledon if I didn’t play here, wouldn’t have played any ranking tournaments through to the US Open. If I want to keep trying to push up the rankings and go higher, I need to try to do well throughout the whole year and not just take sort of six weeks.
“Like Indian Wells/Miami period earlier this year. That hurt me a little bit. I just want to come here and just give it my best shot. I’m not putting too much pressure on myself this week because of the way the preparation was and everything and the way I’ve been feeling the last few days. Obviously have a lot of confidence just now, so when the big, important moments come I’m playing some good tennis.”
The only casualty at the top of the draw was Kei Nishikori, as Tomic got the better of two tie-break sets.
Tomic, who skipped the Olympics, but hardly made the most of the assed Los Cabos tournament as a pre-cursor to this Masters 1000 has yet to take a set off Murray, never mind get on the board with their head to head.
Tomic is one of the more unpredictable foes in the tour – capable of change and switching pace throwing in loops and slices and hitting flat and deep, he can outsmart many, but Murray has always had the measure of him.
The Aussie’s year has been fairly consistent with some deep runs this year, but no hardware this year, having fallen to Dominic Thiem in the Acapulco final earlier this year.
Murray would have been facing the prospect of another match-up with Nishikori, who he beat in the Olympic semi-final, and now must surely feel confident with a shout for his third Cincinnati title.
Prediction: Murray in straight sets
Murray and Tomic are scheduled on Centre Court, not before 8:30pm (1:30am BST, Saturday).
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