Andy Murray strolled into the third round of the Shanghai Masters after swatting aside Steve Johnson in straight sets. The British number one had claimed his fifth title of the season at the China Open in Beijing just 72 hours before but showed no after-effects from those exploits to storm into the last 16.
The Wimbledon champion had been given a scare by the American in their clash at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games but there were no worries for Murray on this occasion as he completed a 6-3 6-2 victory without alarm. After rain disrupted the opening exchanges the opening break went the way of the two-time champion as Johnson went long.
Murray's breakthrough came amid a run of 13 points in a row which helped secure the opening set, with the Scot's virtuoso backhand proving a destructive weapon. Just three games into the second set the three-time major winner had a second break of the match – forcing an angry reaction from Johnson who crushed a ball into the crowd.
The errors from the world number 24 continued to allow Murray to take a virtually unassailable lead in the second set, before he served it out to claim a 61st win of the year to keep pace with Novak Djokovic in pursuit of a year-ending world number one. The Briton takes on France's Lucas Pouille, who beat Nicolas Almagro in two sets, for a place in the quarter-final scheduled for 1pm BST on Thursday [13 October].
"I played a very good match," he told Sky Sports. "In Rio it was one of those matches when I got off to such a good start and he broke me at the start of the second set and kind of totally changed the momentum of the match and it became a big fight to get through that one. Tonight was quite different, it was a tight start and once I got ahead I managed to keep the momentum. I thought I played well tonight. I like the conditions here and hopefully I can keep that going tomorrow.
"It'll be a hard match [against Pouille]. He goes for his shots, he is a big hitter and he's quick around the court. He takes quite a lot of risks out there. He won his first tournament [at the Moselle Open] a couple of weeks ago and obviously had a good run at the US Open and Wimbledon [quarter-finals] so he likes the big matches. He's obviously lost to [Grigor] Dimitrov last week but served for the match and was in a good position to win that one. He's playing well every single week in his performances so I know it'll be a very hard match."