Andy Murray grabbed an early double-break to begin his Round of 16 match with Julien Benneteau at the ATP's Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, and he never looked back.
The reigning Wimbledon champion dominated his French counterpart 6-2, 6-2 on Thursday to easily cruise to the quarterfinals.
Andy Murray through to quarter-finals of Cincinnati Masters after 6-2 6-2 win over Julien Benneteau. #SSN— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) August 15, 2013
It's been a welcome return to form for Murray since his victory at the All England Club, and this particular match took a mere hour and nine minutes to clean up.
After starting out the hard-court season with a surprising loss to Ernests Gulbis in Montreal, there have been few signs of a letdown from Murray in this Masters tournament.
Benneteau was simply outmatched from the start at the Lindner Family Tennis Center, and freelance journalist Chris Goldsmith highlighted just how dire things were for him in the early going:
1st set @andy_murray 6-2 The Brit's 1st set consisted of a 72% 1st serve, winning 78% of them, no BP faced & won 75% of Benneteau's 2nd srve— Chris Goldsmith (@TheTennisTalker) August 15, 2013
A break in the second game of the second set put Benneteau behind 0-2, but he did serve better as the match progressed. Unfortunately, Murray's ever-present returning prowess was far too overwhelming to overcome.
Although he was pushed to 30-40 with Benneteau threatening to break back and knot the second set at three games apiece, Murray successfully saved that, and went on to hold.
Things very much going according to plan for Andy Murray who's a set and 4-2 up on Julien Benneteau on Grandstand. #cincytennis— TennisTV (@TennisTV) August 15, 2013
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That was really the only point in the entire match where momentum threatened to turn against Murray, but his baseline-to-baseline range on the fast Grandstand court made life extremely difficult for Benneteau.
Murray's serve was also on point, as he hit 67 percent of his first serves in and won 75 percent of those points, putting Benneteau on his heels throughout.
Benneteau's execution in the service game sagged as the match progressed. He double-faulted three times in the second set and hit only half of his first serves in that span, which didn't allow him to ever gain any traction.
The world No. 2 Murray is looking in fine form leading up to the year's final Grand Slam event, the U.S. Open, where he is defending champion.
Perhaps capturing the hardware again will raise his profile in the United States, which The Daily Telegraph's Oliver Brown poked fun at during ESPN2's telecast:
Think Andy Murray needs to work on his US media profile. Coverage of his match on ESPN2 has just been replaced by junior-league baseball.— Oliver Brown (@oliverbrown_tel) August 15, 2013
Murray will face either sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych or Tommy Robredo in the Western & Southern Open quarterfinals.
Note: Match statistics are courtesy of CincyTennis.com.