INDIAN WELLS, UNITED STATES (AFP) - Fourth seeded Andy Murray, trying to rebound from a subpar 2014, defeated Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 6-3 in the fourth round of the Indian Wells ATP Masters on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old Scot's game is gathering steam as he cruised into the quarter-finals of the hardcourt event with a 90-minute victory. "I thought I played well. It was a tricky match," Murray said. "He's played well this year, had a few good tournaments.
"He's a tough guy to play against. Very unorthodox style. He has a very, very good backhand cross court. Hits it very low over the net, very flat. He can rush you, take your time away."
Murray moves on to face Spain's Feliciano Lopez, who upset fifth seed Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) on centre court. Murray will be eager to win his first Indian Wells title this week. His best finish is runner-up in 2009, when he lost to Rafael Nadal in the final.
Nadal also won his fourth-round tie, defeating France's Gilles Simon 6-2, 6-4. The Spaniard moves through to the quarter-finals where he will face Milos Raonic of Canada.
Murray was runner up at January's Australian Open and lost in the quarter-finals this year in Dubai and Rotterdam. He attributed his success this week to being able to keep his opponents guessing.
"I made it difficult for my opponents in all of my matches," Murray said. "You know, that's important. I haven't given up too many free points. I have made a lot of returns in play."
Nishikori's defeat marked the first time this year that the 2014 US Open runner-up failed to reach at least the quarter-finals of an ATP tournament. Lopez blasted 12 aces, won 82 percent of his first serve points and broke Nishikori twice in the one hour, 35 minute match.
Nishikori was playing his second straight Spaniard after a hard fought 6-7 (6-8), 6-1, 6-4 win over Fernando Verdasco in the previous round. Nishikori said the turning-point was late in the second set. "I really had one bad game at 5-4. That's all that matters in today's match," he said.
"Until then I was playing better. I was, you know, dominating the strokes. He was hitting good serves, but I had all the chances."