MIAMI: Two-time winner Roger Federer and defending champion Andy Murray eased into the fourth round of the ATP and WTA Miami Masters, producing efficient wins in heat and humidity yesterday.
Fifth-ranked Federer pounded Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker 6-3, 6-3 in just over an hour while British sixth seed Murray downed practice partner Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 6-1.
Ivan Lendl, the coach from whom Murray parted company in recent days, was sitting in the player box to watching his former protege’s triumph.
Federer was all business against the free-swinging de Bakker, whom he has now beaten once in each of the last three seasons.
The 32-year-old Swiss broke for victory in the final game, with de Bakker saving a pair of match points but also double-faulting at a crucial moment in the game.
Federer secured his 21st match win of the season when a backhand from the Dutchman floated long.
“I’m feeling really good with my game,” said Federer who next faces either French ninth seed Richard Gasquet or 17th-seeded South African, Kevin Anderson.
“My confidence is high and I’m moving well. I’m excited about how I’ve been playing.”
Murray polished his record to 9-0 over Spaniard Lopez in only 73 minutes. The Scotsman, who does much of his off-season training in Miami, improved to 21-6 in his part-time hometown.
“It’s not always that easy to feel comfortable against him because there is not loads of rhythm with the way he plays,” Murray said.
“But I moved well, returned well. It was obviously a more comfortable scoreline than the other day (Murray needed three sets to beat Australia’s Matthew Ebden).
“I don’t know how hot it was, but when we came over at like 9:30 it was already 80 Fahrenheit (23 Celsius) and it was extremely humid. They are not easy conditions.”
Murray will line up next against French 11th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who outlasted Marcos Baghdatis 4-6, 7-6 (8/6), 7-5.
Murray has won eight of their nine ATP meetings, the most recent last year on grass at Queen’s.
Tsonga trailed a set and was down 5-1 in the second-set tiebreaker when he suddenly found some much-needed form, rallying to win after two and a half hours.
The Frenchman fired 16 aces and needed only one break of serve to make the winning difference.
Also advancing at the hardcourt event was Chinese world number two Li Na, the reigning Australian Open champion who dispatched American Madison Keys 7-6 (7/3), 6-3.
Li spent nearly an hour surviving the first set, saving two set points on the serve of 38th-ranked Keys.
The American committed a backhand error on her first chance and double-faulted on the second before Li got the break for 5-4 in a set which eventually went into a tiebreaker.
Li won the decider on the first of four set points to seize the match momentum in front of a sparse crowd. The Chinese number one recovered from an early break in the second set, eventually reaching 5-2.
Li then saved a pair of break points in the final game thanks to Keys’ unforced errors and took victory after one hour, 41 minutes as her opponent again misfired.
“It was a pretty tough match,” Li said. “She played well, big serve, big forehand, especially when she was 3-1 down and then come back 5-3 up and served for the first set.
“During that time I didn’t think about too much. I say, ‘OK, try to hit the ball, try to do what you have to do, and I think saving the set points at least kept me in the first set.
“This changed the match a little bit, because after that I was feeling her level drop.”
Li won despite seven double faults, 26 unforced errors and just 11 winners. She broke on five of 10 chances against an opponent whom she has now beaten on two of three occasions.
Li is playing in Miami for the eighth time, reaching four quarter-finals. REUTERS