- Andrey Rublev  def. Andy Murray 7-5, 6-2
- Karen Khachanov def. Cameron Norrie 6-2, 6-2
ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS – It was a sweep for the Russians as Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov knocked out both Brits in the last sixteen.
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Andrey Rublev  def. Andy Murray 7-5, 6-2
The Brit started the match sharply – striking the ball with authority as he quickly found his range on return – which helped him carve a break point opportunity in the sixth game of the opener. Rublev snuffed out the chance and started to grow in stature as the contest continued. A double fault in the eleventh game gifted the Russian the break before the world no. 8 fended off break points to close out the set 7-5.
Murray constantly found himself being forced to defend as Rublev started to dictate proceedings. The 23-year-old used his forehand to near-perfect effect as he moved the Brit from side to side before striking an inevitable winner. Rublev proved too hot to handle for Murray and it was the Russian who won the last four games to wrap up the contest.
The three-time Grand Slam champion simply couldn’t get on the front foot enough to have a realistic shot of winning this match. He only managed to hit two winners off the forehand – 17 less than what he managed in the first round. Murray also wasn’t able to capitalise on some of his aggressive returns, winning just 32% of points behind Rublev’s second delivery. Nevertheless, this event has been relatively positive for the former World No. 1, considering he suffered a bruising loss in the opening round of his last tournament.
Rublev improves his record to 10-1 on the year after his first victory over Murray. The Russian has won his last 17 matches at ATP 500 level – with titles in Hamburg, St Petersburg and Vienna last season.
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Karen Khachanov def. Cameron Norrie [Q] 6-2, 6-2
Like Murray, Norrie started the match well against his Russian opponent. The Brit created a break point opportunity in his first return game, only for Khachanov to respond valiantly. It was one way traffic from then as the World No. 19 broke twice to put himself in a commanding position early on. Norrie’s patterns of play proved to be far too predictable for the Russian, who teed off more often than not. Khachanov served out the set 6-2 – with the qualifier only winning half of his points behind both his first and second serves.
The second set was more of the same as Norrie was unable to find a way to hurt his higher ranked opponent. Khachanov broke serve in the first game with a superb backhand down the line winner. More controlled aggression allowed Khachanov to get himself another break of serve and that proved to be enough as he booked his spot in the quarterfinals.
The Briton struggled to assert his authority throughout the contest, managing just 13 winners alongside his 21 unforced errors. Norrie also had a tricky time on his serve, landing just 39% of his first delivery and winning a dismal 48% behind it. Despite his most recent performance it has been a good week for the 25-year-old as he breezed through qualifying to make the last sixteen.
Murray hopes to play next in Dubai, and Norrie is down to play Marseille.
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