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Murray stays on course for top spot with straight sets

By Robert Jones

Andy Murray kept his challenge to be world number one on track as he reached the quarter-finals of the BNP Paribas Masters with a straight-sets victory over Lucas Pouille.

The 29-year-old, who is hoping to overhaul Novak Djokovic at the top of the rankings this week, fired down six aces in a 6-3 6-0 win in 73 minutes on Centre Court in Paris.

"It's always difficult when you come to a new event with not long to prepare. I returned well, I was hitting the ball cleaner from the back of the court and was able to dictate a few more points.

"My goal, obviously this year, is to try and finish it as strong as possible and the best way to do it is to concentrate on myself."

Pouille won the first two points of the match on Murray's serve as the Frenchman got off to a flying start in front of his home crowd, but the British number one battled back to draw first blood.

Murray then broke Pouille immediately before holding serve again to surge into a 3-0 lead.

Despite the score, the 22-year-old Frenchman was making Murray work hard for his points and he pulled a game back to give himself a lifeline.

The Scot saved the break point before seeing things out to move 4-1 ahead in the match.

Pouille closed in once more with victory in the next game, Murray's attempted lob at 30-15 flying way over his opponent and out at the back of the court, before the underdog made further inroads with a break.

Against serve, Pouille began the next game on top and won three break points before reducing Murray's lead to 4-3.

However, that was as good as it got for Pouille as Murray subsequently reeled off eight games in succession to take the victory.

Djokovic, who must reach the final - if Murray wins the tournament - to retain the No 1 spot, lost the first set yesterday to Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov before winning 4-6 6-3 6-2.

Earlier in the day, Croatia's Cilic defeated eighth-seeded Belgian David Goffin with a 6-3 7-6 (11/9) win.

Belfast Telegraph


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