No.1 seed Dominic Thiem beat local wildcard Zhang Zhizhen in straight sets to set up a quarterfinal showdown with Andy Murray at the China Open.
Thiem, the world No.5, beat Zhang 6-3 6-3 on Wednesday evening at the tournament’s Diamond Court a day after he beat Richard Gasquet in straight sets.
Thiem said he was looking forward to taking on Murray, who continued his comeback to tennis following hip surgery with a three-set win over fellow Brit Cameron Norrie earlier on Wednesday.
“It is always nice to play against legends of tennis. He is one of them 100 per cent, one of the best players in history I would say,” Thiem said.
“It’s always nice to have challenges against them, these (types of) players. Of course, I want to be ready, I want to give him a tough challenge as well and I am really excited for the match on Friday.”
Murray, who won his first ATP Tour singles match in nine months at Zhuhai last week, was made to fight for two hours and 52 minutes against Norrie and won consecutive tour matches for the first time since his hip resurfacing surgery in January.
The Scot beat eighth-seeded Italian Matteo Berrettini 7-6(2) 7-6(7) in the first round on Tuesday.
“I’m really tired, I just had a sleep before coming (to press),” Murray said. “That’s the first time I’ve had to do that since I came back. It’s something that I need to kind of get used to again, especially playing at this level and that intensity.
“It was a good step for me, it’s great that I won the match. Whether I’d won or lost it, I was able to come out… and be competitive and play some good tennis… I’m happy I’ve got the day off tomorrow to recover.”
Norrie served poorly compared to the former world No.1 but 32-year-old Murray only managed to convert four of 13 break points in the match.
Serving for the opening set at 5-3, Murray was broken by Norrie, who then saved three set points in the ensuing tiebreak before he double faulted on the Scot’s fourth set point.
Norrie turned the tables in the second and, although Murray saved a set point on serve, the 24-year-old, ranked 69th, then held his nerve in the tiebreak.
Murray then switched tactics, coming up to the net more often to dictate rallies and shorten points, and won the first five games in a row to set up a meeting with Thiem.
The Austrian fired five aces, won 84 per cent of his first service points and needed only three breaks to beat Zhang in 69 minutes.
Italy’s Fabio Fognini beat Russian Andrey Rublev 6-3 6-4 to set up a quarterfinal clash with fourth seed Karen Khachanov, who dispatched Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 7-6(0) 7-6(5).
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