Murray battles past qualifier
Andy Murray made it through to the quarter-finals of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam but will not want to reflect for too long on a hard night's work.
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The Wimbledon champion looked way off the pace against little-known Austrian Dominic Thiem, labouring badly and looking nothing like a two-time grand slam winner.
Twenty-year-old Thiem was clearly on the receiving end of fortune as his carefree, hit-everything approach lasted throughout the whole match - a rare occurrence.
But Murray could not find a way to break the world number 113, and showed plenty of frustration before he ground out a 6-4 3-6 6-3 win.
"It was an unbelievably tough battle," said the Scot.
"There were a lot of long points. He was hitting some huge shots, going for the lines.
"He had some really big winners. His game is fun to watch but it's no fun to play against at all. I'm sure we will be seeing a lot more of him."
It had looked as though it would be easy for Murray, with the Scot breaking in the first and third games to take early control.
The signs of trouble became evident quickly, though, and after seeing off a break point he coughed up his serve with a wayward forehand.
He would take the set 6-4 but the second must rank as one of the worst Murray has played for some time.
He was never able to dominate his opponent and on his only chance to break in the fifth game, broke a string on the vital point.
He was broken in the eighth game with another poor forehand costing him, and Thiem made him pay with a routine hold.
Murray continued to labour in the third set and endured a frustrating second game as he repeatedly failed to put Thiem away.
He smashed his racket into his shoe at one stage, before eventually getting the break he craved and going on to see it out.
Murray next faces Marin Cilic, the winner of last week's tournament in Zagreb.
While Murray was made to struggle, top seed Juan Martin del Potro made comfortable progress through to the last eight.
The Argentinian saw off Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2 7-6 (7/2) to tee-up a Friday date with Ernests Gulbis.
The Latvian also played on Thursday and beat the number eight seed, Grigor Dimitrov, 6-4 7-6 (7/3).
Third seed Tomas Berdych impressed as he dropped only seven games while beating Nicolas Mahut.
There was a shock as fourth-ranked Richard Gasquet was dismissed by Philipp Kohlschreiber, losing 7-5 7-5, while sixth-rated Tommy Haas was sent packing 6-4 6-4 by Jerzy Janowicz.