Battling Beck pushes Roddick all the way

ANDY RODDICK remained on course for a third straight Stella Artois title yesterday with a hard-fought third round victory over Slovakia’s Karol Beck at Queens.

The defending champion won 6-2 3-6 6-4 to advance to the quarter-finals and admitted: “It was definitely uncomfortable out there. After the first set he really stepped up his game. I kept saying to myself that maybe he’d get tight if he kept going for those kind of high-risk shots and luckily he did a little bit in the last game.”

Earlier in the day, British number two Greg Rusedski bowed out to fourth seed Radek Stepanek, losing 6-3 7-6 to the world number 16.

“Radek was the better player and played the better tennis. I had nine double faults which is just way too many, that was the big difference today,” Rusedski said.

Elsewhere, Andrew Murray’s impressive run came to an unfortunate end. Murray was two points from victory against world number 20 Thomas Johansson when he slipped on the grass and twisted his ankle.

The 18-year-old British number 13 also looked to be suffering from cramp in his right leg but he continued on before going down 7-6 6-7 7-5.

Tim Henman had to fight back from a set down against Aussie qualifier Chris Guccione to secure a 6-7 6-2 6-2 victory and faces Johansson in Friday’s quarter-finals.

Meanwhile, Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova was forced to display all her battling qualities in order to maintain her latest title challenge, much to her own delight.

The world number two was given a searching examination by Australian Samantha Stosur before clinching her place in the quarter-finals of the DFS Classic in Birmingham.

The leggy Russian dropped a set for only the second time in two years at Edgbaston before eventually coming through 6-3 3-6 6-1, she will play the unseeded Eleni Daniilidou, of Greece, today for a place in the last four.

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