MIAMI: Defending champion Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic will meet for the first time since last year’s Wimbledon final after advancing with ease Tuesday into the ATP and WTA Masters quarter-finals.
Wimbledon winner Murray dispatched French 11th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-1 while second seed Djokovic gave away a second-set point in a sporting gesture to Tommy Robredo during a 6-3, 7-5 triumph.
Britain’s sixth-seeded Murray, who trails the Serb 8-11 in their all-time rivalry, was looking forward to a repeat match with Djokovic after not playing him since last July.
“We’ve played a lot and we always have long, tough matches. This will be a good test for me,” Murray said.
Swiss fifth seed Roger Federer ousted French ninth seed Richard Gasquet 6-1, 6-2 in 49 minutes to book a quarter-final date with Japan’s Kei Nishikori.
Federer was on fire against Gasquet, who set up two Federer match points with a backhand error and took the loss moments later as he could not reach a drop shot in the windy conditions.
“The wind was the same for both of us, but I’ve had a lot of experience playing in it,” said Federer. “I made him work for his points.
“It was a great match for me and I’m very pleased,” said Federer, who broke five times and committed only eight unforced errors.
Federer, who lost to Djokovic earlier this month in the Indian Wells final, won the Miami title in 2005 and 2006. His 79 career crowns include a record 17 Grand Slam titles.
Murray, who underwent back surgery six months ago, improved to 9-1 against Tsonga, advancing in 74 minutes.
The Scotsman, who converted on eight of his 12 break chances, won on his second match point as the Frenchman hit the net with a return.
“It was a close match,” Murray said. “I had lots of break points. Conditions were tricky with the wind. It was not pretty tennis but we tried the best we could.”
Despite reporting some pain in his hips and lower back, Murray was satisfied with his level of fitness while remaining aware that he needs to monitor himself.
“I haven’t seen my physio, I chatted to him a little bit after the match, but I need to get assessed and have him treat me. Hopefully I’ll be OK,” Murray said.
“It was a bit sore but I still moved well throughout the rest of the match, which is a good sign. I was probably moving better at the end of the match than I was at the beginning, so that’s probably a good sign.”
Djokovic surrendered a point to his 16th-seeded Spanish rival in the third game of the second set after a linesman mistakenly called a Robredo return out.
Instead of re-playing, Djokovic donated the point, giving his opponent an ad.
Though Djokovic won the game, the gesture drew applause from fans who had to wait half an hour for the start of play after morning rain.
“It’s something that is part of the sport and fair play. I expect everybody else to do the same. Of course, not everybody else is the same, but for me that’s something that’s normal, just a normal, natural reaction,” Djokovic said.
The event got lucky with the weather as faint sun replaced the morning rain.
“It was humid, swirly on the court, there was a lot of wind,” Djokovic said. “I just was telling myself to stay mentally out there tough, composed and not get carried away by few points.
“I did well, served well. I made him play an extra shot in important moments and that’s why I’m satisfied with the overall match.”
Djokovic, who has won six matches in a row against Robredo, is playing the event for the ninth time. He has a 28-5 record and also leads the way among active players for titles won in Miami, winning in 2007, 2011 and 2012.
The Serb finished off his win in 82 minutes with a forehand winner to the corner on the first of three match points.
Nishikori saved four match points as he reached the third Masters-level quarter-final of his career with an upset of Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer 7-6 (9/7), 2-6, 7-6 (11/9).
Also advancing with a shock win was Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov, who ousted Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka, the Swiss third seed, by 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.
Dolgopolov, 7-3 against top-20 players this yearm will meet either Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych or US 10th seed John Isner in the quarter-finals.