ndy Murray was suitably tested as he prepared for Wimbledon with a narrow victory over Gijs Brouwer in the Surbiton Trophy on Thursday.
The Dutch qualifier and world No. 230 battled through nearly two hours of the final game of the ATP Challenger Tour Round of 16, with Murray finishing 7-6(4), 7-6(3).
Next up for the Scot will be fifth seed Brandon Nakashima after Murray skipped this year’s French Open to maximize his grass-court preparation.
As in his opener at Surbiton Racket & Fitness Club, Murray started with an ace to delight those crammed into the 604-seater center court with longtime physio Shane Annun and strength and balance coach conditioning Matt Little again sat among the spectators.
Brouwer held firm in the opening rallies and fired a few aces before having to save two break points in the sixth service game. It was Murray’s turn to be on the back foot at 5-5, but he eventually held on before a tiebreaker was needed to decide the opener.
The former Olympic champion’s serve had been impressive throughout the first set and two more aces were followed by an outstanding backhand down the line to edge the tie-break 7-4.
Murray had won in less than 58 minutes on Monday, but with that opener lone lasting six minutes less, it highlighted the challenge provided by Brouwer.
It continued in the same vein in the second and while the two-time Wimbledon champion saved a break point in game four, he was unable to repeat the trick in his next service game and trailed 4 -2.
An instant response was produced by Murray, who showed great movement to reach a shot on net to recover the set on serve. Brouwer kept his level to ensure the Briton served twice to stay in the set, which he did to force another tie-break.
Murray’s quality shone there with a mix of strong returns and great serves seeing him win 7-6(4) 7-6(3) in an hour and 50 minutes. He has won back-to-back victories on grass and three more will ensure he lifts the silverware again in England on Sunday.
Additional reporting by PA Media.