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Scot hammers out last-eight place

Andy Murray last night took his place in the quarter-finals of the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam with a shrewd flick of his racket.

The Scot had only nudged the ball over the net but invited Dominic Thiem to canter forward and push a shot behind the baseline. It was a move of subtlety fit to win any match.

Except this one. Murray teased his winning shot, but had been made to hammer away at his victory. The world No.6 is in the Netherlands after accepting a late wildcard place in the tournament and has not been allowed to fool around. It took 89 minutes to get reach the last eight. Murray grafted in all of them.

It would be flippant to say that nothing is known of his opponent, Thiem. He is Austrian. He is also in possession of a racket and more luck than it should be possible to fit into his bag; the 20-year-old adopting hit-and-hope tactics for most of the match.

Thiem lost 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, but made Murray scrap for two break points in the first set and later breaking back in the third. The tension his display caused told most clearly on his opponent's racket - Murray breaking a strong while struggling to break a serve, before the Scot redirected the sorry instrument into the side of his foot.

Murray only seemed to get up to full speed with the finish in sight. He seized on a shot which bounced short and touched the ball over the night, swivelling to allow Thiem to strike it long and out.

"Sometimes at the beginning of weeks it can be tough to get used to a new surface in terms of your movement, but from the beginning of the match, I made it tough for him to hit any winners and kept making him play one extra ball," said Murray, who faces Marin Cilic in the quarter-finals. "Hopefully I'll start to hit the ball better with each match."

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