Andy Murray moved into the last eight of the Rolex Monte Carlo Masters today with a 6-3 6-3 victory over injury-stricken Gilles Simon.
The British number one followed up yesterday’s win over Radek Stepanek – his first since the Australian Open – with an equally convincing win over the 26-year-old Frenchman in the third round of this clay court event.
He had taken control but an ankle injury sustained by Simon enabled the Scot to turn the screw and set up a quarter-final against world number 82 Frederico Gil.
Murray broke in the first game of the match but Simon hit back immediately. The next four games went with serve, before Murray took control by breaking in the seventh game.
The Scot held serve comfortably and – after an impressive backhand down the line – he moved to within a point of the first set with a chip shot that Simon could only hit the net with.
On the next point Simon picked up the injury which was to prove his downfall. Racing to return at the baseline he turned his right ankle – although Murray hit his attempt long.
After six minutes of treatment Simon resumed and put a backhand into the net - then hit a forehand long to give Murray, who won this match at the corresponding stage of last season’s Wimbledon last year, the first set.
Simon won the first game of the second set against the serve but was clearly struggling with the injury, pulling up again in the next game – which Murray won.
The Scot ruthlessly employed several drop shots to turn the screw in the next few games, making his stricken opponent pound the court and bringing jeers from the fans as he cruised 4-1 ahead.
Simon had chances to hold serve but was broken again in the sixth game - although he gave his supporters something to cheer when he accepted a third opportunity to break and reduced the deficit to 5-2 with a forehand which was too hot for Murray, then held serve.
However, the three-time Grand Slam finalist rediscovered his touch in the 10th game, giving himself three match points.
Although battling Simon saved the first one with another powerful forehand return, he hit the second one long to bring a roar from Murray at wrapping up victory.
Second seed Roger Federer booked his place in the last eight with a 6-4 6-3 victory over Marin Cilic.
The first set went with serve until Cilic fired a forehand into the net – and two break points in the sixth game of the second set enabled the Swiss to take control.
Federer took the second of them with a backhand winner down the line to open up a 4-2 lead – and soon after the set was clinched 6-3, wrapping up a 71-minute success.
“The first set was close until he had that loose game. He can be dangerous, so I’m pleased to go through,” the former world number one told Sky Sports.
Tommy Robredo won the first set of his match against Viktor Troicki 6-3 – but the Serbian progressed when Robredo retired, trailing 2-1 in the second, with what is believed to be a recurrence of a groin injury. Troicki will face Ferrer next.
Rain halted action in the other quarter-final, with Austria’s Jurgen Melzer closing in on victory against Spain’s Nicolas Almagro.
Federer awaits the winner, with Melzer leading 6-1 5-4 when the players were forced off.