MATSUMOTO, Japan — Britain’s Andy Murray beat top-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan 7-6 (2), 7-6 (6) on Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals of the Stockholm Open.
Both players struggled to hold serve early on before Murray broke Nishikori in the second set when he netted a backhand and served out the match.
“The first set could have gone either way. It wasn’t perfect,” Murray said. “Kei played well. He had chances to go a little bit further. At 3-3 I thought I had some chances and then hit a couple of poor shots — double fault and a mishit.”
Murray will play fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany in the quarterfinals. Zverev beat Malek Jaziri of Tunisia 6-3, 7-6 (3).
Vasek Pospisil of Canada advanced to the quarterfinals when seventh-seeded Andreas Seppi of Italy retired when trailing 4-1 in the first set. Pospisil also beat Seppi in the fourth round in Sofia earlier this month.
In other first-round matches, American Jack Sock beat seventh-seeded Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 6-3, 6-1, and Filip Krajinovic of Serbia beat Alejandro Gonzalez of Colombia 6-4, 6-2.
A day after his Swedish girlfriend, Dominika Cibulkova, failed to reach the semifinals of the U.S. Open, Federer was solid against his fellow Swiss. He took control after quickly breaking for a 4-1 lead in the first set.
The 13-time Grand Slam champion said he was feeling well after his win and it might not be too much of a struggle to prepare for his home Swiss Open in Basel on Nov. 2-10.
“I played well yesterday and it is easy to think I have a good chance. But each match is different,” Federer said. “I would love to be able to play in Basel, but if I take too much time off, I can’t move from a break to a full match in 10 days. That is a risk.”
Federer took to Twitter to thank all of his fans for their messages of support following his U.S. Open loss.
“They gave me a lot of energy to bounce back from my loss in New York and I’ll be sure to respond with more great tennis soon,” he wrote.
Murray is trying to work his way back into shape following hip surgery in January. The Wimbledon champion has never reached the Stockholm semifinals.