Andy Murray has produced one of his finest performances since his hip surgery to defeat Italian top seed Jannik Sinner and reach the quarter-finals of the Stockholm Open.
Murray had lost a succession of close matches to top-20 players before defeating then world number 10 Hubert Hurkacz in Vienna a fortnight ago.
Italian Sinner is the same ranking now and one of the hottest young prospects in the game but Murray produced a clean and impressive display on Wednesday, breaking his 20-year-old opponent twice in the second set on the way to a 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 triumph.
Murray, who is trialling a new coach this week in Spaniard Esteban Carril, has played a series of long tiebreaks recently but here he took his first set point having saved the only break point of a long opener.
He then broke Sinner, who narrowly missed out on a place in next week’s ATP Finals, to lead 2-1 in the second and maintained the pressure on his young opponent until the finish.
This will be only Murray’s second ATP Tour quarter-final in the last two years and victory over American Tommy Paul would put him through to the last four at this level for the first time since his title in Antwerp in 2019.
Denis Shapovalov finally got to launch the defence of his Stockholm title from 2019, beating qualifier Andrea Vavassori 7-6 (7-1) 6-1 to reach the last eight.
The 22-year-old Canadian has had to wait two years to defend the only ATP title he has won in his short career, with the 2020 edition cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It felt amazing to be back here,” the third-seeded Shapovalov said after breaking Vavassori’s serve three times in the last 16.