Murray finally gets going as Sharapova marches on
World number one Andy Murray was given a good workout against Feliciano Lopez as he booked a place in the quarter-finals of the Barcelona Open with a hard-earned 6-4 6-4 win.
Murray entered the tournament to build up match time as he continued his recovery from an elbow injury which saw him return to action last week in Monte Carlo after more than a month on the sidelines.
The 29-year-old Scot had been given a bye through to the second round and then saw Australian Bernard Tomic pull out of their scheduled contest on Wednesday because of a back problem.
The tournament's top seed, though, eventually got the chance of another workout on clay when taking on Spaniard Lopez, who produced stubborn resistance before Murray eventually produced the required response to progress to the last eight.
"I was happy to play. It was nice to get through and have another match," said Murray.
"I didn't feel so good at the start, but I played good tennis in some of the important moments."
Murray accepted a late wildcard for Barcelona after his third-round defeat by Spaniard Ramos-Vinolas in Monte Carlo.
Maria Sharapova declared herself "way above" responding to Eugenie Bouchard after recording the second win of her comeback to reach the quarter-finals of the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart.
After a nervy start and ultimately comfortable win against Roberta Vinci in the first round on Wednesday, Sharapova moved up a level to beat fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 7-5 6-1.
It came after world number 59 Bouchard said Sharapova, returning from a 15-month doping ban, was "a cheater" and that "a cheater in any sport should not be allowed to play again".
Bouchard added: "She's not someone I can say I look up to any more."
Sharapova responded: "I am way above that."
Johanna Konta was knocked out in the second round by Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova.
The British number one is inexperienced on clay at the highest level and it showed in a scrappy 6-3 7-5 loss to Sevastova, who also won their meeting at the US Open last year.
Konta began well with a break of Sevastova's serve in the first game but lost the next three games and did not hold her own serve until the fourth attempt.
Sevastova, ranked 19 places below Konta at 26, produced three aces in a row on her way to clinching the opening set and then recovered from 3-1 down in the second to level.
A missed forehand then cost Konta as she was broken in the 11th game and Sevastova served out the victory with her sixth ace.