Andy Murray stormed through the Stockholm Open with a 6-1, 6-2 win over top-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut on Thursday, putting the fourth-seeded Brit in the quarterfinals and on a collision course with a rejuvenated Rafa Nadal.
The 14-time Grand Slam champion gave away his place in the quarterfinals to the Spanish star, who will be at the top of the class of players next to Murray after pulling out of his U.S. Open opening match to allow the trauma of his loss in the second round of Wimbledon to sink in. Nadal pulled out of a heatwave-long heat treatment after the third set, saying he was “not right mentally” and would finish the second round. He then suffered an injury against Mischa Zverev in the third round, severely damaging his stomach muscle but came back against Karen Khachanov to make the quarterfinals.
Nadal-Murray would have been one of the highlight matches of the week for Murray, and his emotions were in no doubt during the match on Thursday, taking a medical timeout after the first set because of irritation on his ankle.
However, Murray proved far too strong in the next three sets, shrugging off an early break he conceded to lead 3-0 in the second set and breezing through the next two sets without a real fight.
He will face the winner of the later match between Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller and Gael Monfils.