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Murray Sets Quarter-final Clash With Wawrinka

Tokyo, Japan

Reigning Tokyo champion Andy Murray needed just 57 minutes to book his place in the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships quarter-finals, overwhelming Lukas Lacko 6-1, 6-2 under a closed roof in Ariake Coliseum on Wednesday.

Murray converted all four of his break point chances, taking 63 per cent of his return points to improve his record against the Slovakian to a 2-0 mark. The Scot has won nine matches in a row, including his US Open triumph that culminated with victory over Novak Djokovic in the final.

“I began the match very well, which was nice because it was long day to get on,” said Murray. “I started the match almost perfect. That was important. Once I got the break in the second set, I started to play better.”

The World No. 3 is seeking to retain a title for the first time this season, having captured five trophies in 2011 and three so far this year. He won an Asian swing hat-trick last year, triumphing in Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai. Murray will face off against Stanislas Wawrinka next and takes a 7-4 career lead into the pair’s 12th clash, defeating the Swiss No. 2 most recently on his way to winning gold at the London 2012 Olympics.

“He had a good US Open and did well in Cincinnati,” said Murray. “I think hard courts are a good surface for him. I’ve had a lot of tough matches with him over the years, especially on the hard courts. I would expect the same on Friday.”

The seventh-seeded Wawrinka became the first player to move through to the quarter-finals after battling past Jeremy Chardy 7-6(1), 6-7(6), 7-5. Wawrinka hit 19 aces and won 55 of his 59 first serve points, including all 16 in the final set. He capitalised on his only break point opportunity of the third set to move ahead 6-5 and went on to close out the hard-fought victory in two hours and 38 minutes.

“I usually serve well, especially indoors when the courts are a bit faster,” said Wawrinka. “It was quite good today. I was changing the rhythm a lot and the speed as well. That helped me to be really aggressive after the serve.”

The Swiss is looking to reach his first final since triumphing in Chennai last year. Wawrinka has advanced to four semi-finals in 2012, most notably at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, where he secured three Top 20 victories before falling to eventual champion and countryman Roger Federer. The 27-year-old Wawrinka will play top-seeded reigning champion Andy Murray or Lukas Lacko next.

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