Cincinnati - British fourth seed Andy Murray advanced to the ATP Cincinnati Masters quarter-finals on Thursday by outlasting Latvia's Ernests Gulbis 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4).
The 23-year-old Scotsman won six of nine break-point chances and made only 23 unforced errors while benefitting from 54 from Gulbis in booking a spot in the final eight at the three-million-dollar hardcourt tuneup for the US Open.
"I was struggling a little bit but I managed to save it," Murray said. "I hung in there well. He had chances in the second set. I was struggling with my legs a little bit in the third set. I was tired but I hung in there."
Murray, who won on his fourth match point after seizing a 6-1 lead in the tie-breaker, will next face American Mardy Fish, who ousted Frenchman Richard Gasquet 7-5, 6-2, in another third-round match.
"He plays aggressive tennis," Murray said of Fish. "I will have to hit my passing shots and take advantage of my opportunities."
World number won Rafael Nadal, who has won 35 of his past 37 matches, was set to face France's Julien Benneteau and world number two Roger Federer was to meet Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber in later matches.
Murray improved to 6-10 in tie-breakers for the year and dropped Gulbis to 11-5, but what looked to be an easy tie-break romp proved tougher by the end, which came after two hours and 33 minutes.
Gulbis netted a forehand to give Murray a 3-0 lead and sent an overhead smash into the net to hand the Scotsman a 4-1 lead on the way to dropping six of the first seven points.
The Latvian pulled back three match points before sending a forehand long to give Murray the victory despite hitting 49 winners to only 22 for the Briton.
Andy Murray (4), Britain, def. Ernests Gulbis, Latvia, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4).
Mardy Fish, United States, def. Richard Gasquet, France, 7-5, 6-2.
Novak Djokovic (2), Serbia, def. David Nalbandian, Argentina, 6-1, 7-6 (7).