Murray equals record as Muller shocks Dimitrov

LONDON: Andy Murray moved a step closer to a record-equalling fourth Queen’s Club title as the top seed defeated Fernando Verdasco 7-5, 6-4, while Grigor Dimitrov joined the lengthy list of star casualties on Thursday.

While defending champion Dimitrov was beaten 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) by Gilles Muller in the second round, Murray avoided becoming the latest big name to fall with a second successive straight-sets win at the Wimbledon warm-up event. Dimitrov’s lacklustre exit against the world No 48 from Luxembourg came hot on the heels of Rafael Nadal’s shock loss to Ukrainian journeyman Alexandr Dolgopolov and French Open champion Stan Wawrinka’s defeat against Kevin Anderson.

Murray had been due to face Dimitrov in the quarter-finals, so the series of upsets leaves the world No 3, who now boasts an impressive 22-5 career record at Queen’s, as the strong favourite to win the title ahead of his meeting with the unheralded Muller. The 28-year-old last triumphed at Queen’s in 2013 and if he lifts the giant silver trophy on Sunday, he will join Boris Becker, John McEnroe, Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt as the joint record winner of the tournament.

Although Verdasco had pushed Murray to the brink, taking a two-set lead before losing in five in the Wimbledon quarter-finals in 2013, the Scot had won 10 of their 11 previous meetings.

Later on Thursday, fourth-seeded Croatian Marin Cilic went out. Cilic lost 6-7 (8/10), 6-2, 6-3 to Serbia’s Viktor Troicki. John Isner won the battle of the big servers as he defeated last year’s Queen’s runner-up Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (9/11), 7-6 (7/4).