Andy Murray pushed to limit by Mardy Fish in Cincinnati
Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka were pushed hard in their opening matches at the Cincinnati Masters, but world number one Novak Djokovic cruised through his on Wednesday.
Murray, who beat Djokovic in the Montreal Masters on Sunday and moved up to second in the world rankings, had a tough second round outing against Mardy Fish but came through 6-4 7-6(1).
Wawrinka had to dig deep to beat Borna Coric, while Djokovic breezed by Frenchman Benoit Paire 7-5 6-2. Rafa Nadal also advanced after beating Jeremy Chardy.
Murray had ended an eight-match, 25-month drought against the Serb on Sunday in Montreal, but was given a thorough test by the 33-year-old Fish, who has said he will retire after the August 31-Sept. 13 U.S. Open.
After taking the first set 6-4, Murray let frustration creep into his game and he smashed his racquet after being broken in the 11th game of the second set, which gave the American the chance to serve out to even the match.
Murray broke right back, however, then dominated the tiebreak to close the match out after midnight.
"I forgot how tricky Mardy was to play against," Murray said after improving his career record to 5-4 against Fish.
"He takes the ball incredibly early and the ball comes off his racquet so quick sometimes. I found it very tough ... I didn't feel that confident striking the ball, which is quite different to last week."
French Open champion Wawrinka said his mind was not fully on the game as he had yet to receive an apology from Nick Kyrgios for the Australian's incendiary comment during their match last week.
Kyrgios, 20, drew the ire of the tennis world in Montreal after he insulted Wawrinka at the Rogers Cup, saying that another Australian player, Thanasi Kokkinakis, had slept with Wawrinka's girlfriend.
Though Kyrgios later apologised via Twitter for his comments, he was slapped with two separate fines by the ATP who also raised the possibility the Australian could be suspended.
Wawrinka did not hear the comment at the time, only learning later that it had been audible on television. He admitted after his victory on Wednesday that the past week had been difficult.
"For the past few days for sure my head was not really into the tennis," Wawrinka told Sky Sports television after his 3-6 7-6(3) 6-3 win over Croatian teen Coric.
"What happened people don't see exactly what the consequences are for everybody so I'm trying to put away.
"Today I'm happy with the way I fight. I was playing really bad tennis but most important is the win."
Wawrinka was then asked if he was happy with the way that Kyrgios, who lost his opening match in Cincinnati, had apologised for the incident.
"He didn't apologise so no, but I prefer not to talk about him, thank you," said Wawrinka.
Top seed Djokovic cruised through his opener against Paire 7-5 6-2 to set up a third-round clash with Belgian 13th seed David Goffin.
Eighth seed Nadal, swept aside by Kei Nishikori in Montreal, beat Frenchman Chardy 6-3 6-4. The Spaniard showed some positive signs of returning to form but still had to stave off nine break points.
"I am working very hard to find my best game again," said Nadal, who has been hampered by a string of injuries over the past couple of years.
8-Rafa Nadal (Spain) beat Jeremy Chardy (France) 6-3 6-4
3-Andy Murray (Britain) beat Mardy Fish (U.S.) 6-4 7-6(1)
13-David Goffin (Belgium) beat Fernando Verdasco (Spain) 6-4 7-6(4)
5-Stanislas Wawrinka (Switzerland) beat Borna Coric (Croatia) 3-6 7-6(3) 6-3
Jerzy Janowicz (Poland) beat Jared Donaldson (U.S.) 6-4 7-6(4)
12-Richard Gasquet (France) beat Thanasi Kokkinakis (Australia) 7-6(5) 6-2
Feliciano Lopez (Spain) beat Andreas Seppi (Italy) 7-6(6) 6-2
1-Novak Djokovic (Serbia) beat Benoit Paire (France) 7-5 6-2
15-Kevin Anderson (South Africa) beat Jack Sock (U.S.) 6-3 7-6(7)