Murray ready for last-eight trial by serve

Ross McLean
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World No3 Andy Murray recorded his first victory on grass over Spain’s Fernando Verdasco since their quarter-final clash at Wimbledon 2013
BRITAIN’S Andy Murray expects a barrage of big serves when he faces Gilles Muller in today’s Aegon Championships quarter-final after sealing his last-eight spot by cruising past Spain’s Fernando Verdasco at Queen’s Club yesterday.

Top seed Murray dispatched Verdasco in straight sets, 7-5, 6-4, to record his first victory on grass over the world No42 since their quarter-final tussle at Wimbledon in 2013, when the Scot recovered a two-set deficit on his way to a second grand slam crown.

His 11th success over Verdasco in 12 meetings was much simpler, and leaves Murray on course for a fourth Queen’s Club title, which would see him join Boris Becker, John McEnroe, Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt as the tournament’s joint record winner.

The 28-year-old’s bid was aided by his next opponent Muller, who beat defending champion Grigor Dimitrov as the list of shock results at the competition continued apace, in the process accumulating 19 aces, which is a weapon not lost on Murray.

“The next match will be tough as Gilles Muller served 37 aces in the first round [against Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny] and I haven’t served that many all year, so it will be tough,” said Murray, who boasts a 22-5 career record at Queen’s.

“It was a tricky match today. Fernando is obviously an extremely powerful guy and you don’t have a chance to get into some of the rallies. He didn’t serve so well which gave me a few opportunities, but I was happy with the way I moved, it was better than the first match.”

Murray’s billing as the competition’s strong favourite was intensified by Muller’s slaying of world No11 Dimitrov, who joined the list of star casualties, following the unceremonious demise of former world No1 Rafael Nadal and French Open winner Stan Wawrinka.

Luxembourg’s world No48 Muller, who is coached by Briton and Murray’s good friend Jamie Delgado, beat Bulgarian sixth seed Dimitrov 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), although he faces a daunting task in the next round having only taken one set off the 2012 Olympic champion in their three meetings to date.

“It may be a bit different [seeing Delgado on the opposition side], he has come to sit in my box, watch matches and support me,” added Murray.

“I know Gilles very, very well and I like him. I have played a number of guys like that on the tour, players that I have known since I was very young, and it doesn’t change anything for me.”

British No2 Johanna Konta, meanwhile, crashed out of the Aegon Classic in Birmingham yesterday after losing 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to Czech world No13 Karolina Pliskova, who now faces Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro in the quarter-finals.