Andy Mur­ray sets up China Open quar­ter-fi­nal tie with Bri­tish team­mate Kyle Ed­mund

Malta Independent - - SPORT - Andy Mur­ray

Andy Mur­ray, the No1 seed, set up an all-Bri­tish quar­ter-fi­nal against Kyle Ed­mund at the China Open when he saw off An­drey Kuznetsov 6-2, 6-1 in Bei­jing. There was also progress for Jo­hanna Konta in the women’s sin­gles.

Mur­ray, the world No2 back in ac­tion af­ter suf­fer­ing a thigh in­jury play­ing for Great Bri­tain in the Davis Cup semi-fi­nal de­feat by Ar­gentina, pro­duced an­other com­posed dis­play to de­feat the Rus­sian with­out too much cause for con­cern.

Af­ter los­ing his open­ing ser­vice game, Mur­ray re­cov­ered quickly with two breaks to lead 3-1. Although Kuznetsov, the world No45, ral­lied again to break back, the Scot re­mained on the of­fen­sive and took an­other im­me­di­ate break chance be­fore clos­ing out the set af­ter 48 min­utes with a fourth break.

The Scot’s mo­men­tum con­tin­ued into the sec­ond set, where two breaks and a hold saw the 29-year-old move 4-1 ahead. Kuznetsov lost yet an­other ser­vice game to leave Mur­ray on the brink of the last eight, which he se­cured with a love ser­vice game to com­plete his win in one hour and 17 min­utes.

Ear­lier Ed­mund, the Bri­tish No2, beat Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in three sets. The 21-year-old, who pro­vi­sion­ally moved into the top 50 af­ter beat­ing Gui­il­ermo Gar­cía-López in the first round, claimed a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 vic­tory against the world No18. A tight con­test was set­tled in game seven of the third set with Ed­mund, a qual­i­fier, break­ing Bautista and then hold­ing serve to com­plete an­other im­pres­sive win.

The Davis Cup team-mates have met in com­pet­i­tive ac­tion just once, at Queen’s this year, when Mur­ray came through 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.

Konta, the Bri­tish women’s No1, is through to the third round of the China Open af­ter beat­ing Timea Ba­bos in straight sets.

She achieved a 7-5, 6-2 vic­tory over the Hun­gar­ian to boost her chances of reach­ing the WTA Fi­nals in Sin­ga­pore this month.

The 25-year-old, who is ranked 14th in the world, is cur­rently ninth in the race to Sin­ga­pore, with the top eight qual­i­fy­ing for the tour­na­ment. Konta will face Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Repub­lic for a place in the quar­ter-fi­nals af­ter she came from be­hind to de­feat Rus­sia’s Daria Kasatk­ina 3-6, 7-5, 7-6.

Maria Shara­pova to play at WTT Smash Hits in Las Ve­gas

Maria Shara­pova re­turns to the court for the first time since her dop­ing ban was re­duced when she makes her World Team Tennis Smash Hits de­but next week in Las Ve­gas.

WTT an­nounced yes­ter­day that Shara­pova will play in the char­ity event, co-hosted by Bil­lie Jean King and El­ton John, on Mon­day at Cae­sars Palace. Pro­ceeds go to the El­ton John AIDS Foun­da­tion.

Shara­pova says she's "re­ally ex­cited to get back on the court for a great cause" and "look­ing for­ward to a great night of tennis."

She joins a field that in­cludes John McEn­roe, Andy Rod­dick, Martina Navratilova, Mardy Fish, Mark Philip­pous­sis and Liezel Huber.

Shara­pova's two-year ban was re­duced to 15 months on Tues­day by a sports court. She tested pos­i­tive for the pro­hib­ited heart med­i­ca­tion mel­do­nium at the Aus­tralian Open in Jan­uary.

Mean­while, Maria Shara­pova's lawyer has called for re­form of the world anti-dop­ing sys­tem fol­low­ing the tennis star's re­duc­tion in her sus­pen­sion for tak­ing the banned sub­stance mel­do­nium.

John Hag­gerty says sports bod­ies are fail­ing athletes. Mr Hag­gerty ar­gued that Shara­pova would not be in her cur­rent po­si­tion at all if she had been an ath­lete of nu­mer­ous other sports.

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