Andy Murray has preserved a perfect record against American John Isner to deny the American 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4 in the second round of the Shanghai Rolex Masters on Thursday. The third-seeded Scot extended his FedEx ATP Head2Head series to 5-0 after the two-hour, 31-minute victory over the No. 13 seed.
Currently second in the Emirates ATP Race To London, Murray stands a strong chance at finishing the season ranked No. 2. But he made no secret he had grander ambitions for 2016.
“Yeah, I mean, look, all of the players on the tour would like to get to No. 1 in the world. Obviously this year I have a good chance to finish at No. 2, which would be the first time for me,” Murray said. “This year, although I’m a long way behind Novak in the rankings, a few matches can change that significantly. Grand Slam semi-finals and finals, they’re the matches that are for big, big points. That’s something, if I want to get to No. 1 in the world, I need to win a couple more of them. So hopefully next year I’ll be able to do that.”
Isner, looking to become the first American since Andy Roddick in 2011 to reach the Shanghai quarter-finals, secured the minibreak for 3/1 in the opening set tie-break with a wrong-footing forehand drop-shot winner. Back-to-back body-jamming serves from the American got him to 5/2 ad he maintained the advantage to snare the opener 7/4.
Murray landed the break in the second set at 5-4 before leveling the match at a set apiece. He broke Isner for 4-3 in the decider and closed it out with an unreturnable serve, keeping his hopes of a third Shanghai title alive, in what would be his 12th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title.
“His serve is tough to read, obviously,” Murray said. “He has a great serve. It’s hard to return in perfect conditions. So when the ball’s coming in and out of the shade, and his ball toss, as well, it’s difficult.
“Then when the sun went away, the court was played in the shade, I found it easier to see the serve. I made some adjustments to my return position, as well, which helped me. I created a lot of chances in the second and third sets.”
Next up for Murray will be fifth seed Tomas Berdych, who disposed of Gilles Simon 6-3, 6-3 in 86 minutes. Berdych won 77 per cent of points on the Simon second serve and broke his opponent four times (4/7) to set up a 13th meeting with Murray. The series is currently deadlocked at six, with the Brit winning the past two encounters (2015 Miami and 2015 Australian Open).
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga joined Murray in the quarter-finals after ending Spanish qualifier Albert Ramos-Vinolas’s run 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-4. World No. 70 Ramos-Vinolas had downed second seed and defending champion Roger Federer in the second round and looked to have the 16th-seeded Frenchman in trouble on Thursday.
He saved three set points in the opening set and was 2/5 down in the tie-break before rallying to take it 7/5. Tsonga, though, would go on to reach his fourth quarter-final in Shanghai after two hours and 45 minutes.