ANTWERP, Belgium — Andy Murray reached the quarterfinals of the European Open by beating Pablo Cuevas 6-4, 6-3 Thursday, while the three highest-seeded players were all eliminated.
Murray couldn’t convert any of his first seven break points but finally broke Cuevas in the final game of the first set. He then saved four break points in the opening game of the second before breaking again for a 4-2 lead.
The former No. 1 is now 7-7 on tour since returning to action after having hip surgery in January. He won his first singles match at a tour-level event in September at Zhuhai, China, then made it to the China Open quarterfinals in Beijing this month.
“I felt a bit better today. I thought I served quite well for most of the match and when I was able to get into the baseline rallies, I felt I was hitting the ball quite clean, which is good,” Murray said. “It’s getting there. It sometimes takes me a little bit longer to get warmed up in the matches and sort of feel confident with my movement. But today I think from the beginning of the match I started pretty well. It was a good day.”
Murray will next face Romanian qualifier Marius Copil, who upset third-seeded Diego Schwartzman of Argentine 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (7).
Top-seeded Gael Monfils lost 6-3, 6-2 to 18-year-old wild-card entry Jannik Sinner of Italy, while No. 2 David Goffin was ousted 6-3, 6-1 by Ugo Humbert.
American Frances Tiafoe advanced by beating seventh-seeded Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3, 6-4.
TOKYO — Denis Shapovalov put up a near-perfect serving performance to beat Steve Johnson 6-3, 7-6 (3) at the Japan Open.
The seventh-seeded Canadian conceded only one point on his first serve and had 11 aces. Shapovalov, who lost in the semifinals four years ago, will next take on Japanese qualifier Rio Noguchi for a place in the quarterfinals.
“(This was) definitely one of my best serving matches,” Shapovalov said. “I kind of felt like I needed to against Steve . I’m very happy with my serving performance today and hopefully I can keep it up throughout the week.”
Also, Miomir Kecmanovic came back to beat Yoshihito Nishioka 2-6, 7-6 (1), 6-2, and Kwon Soon-woo defeated Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-2.
ASTANA, Kazakhstan — Carlos Alcaraz’s first match as the No. 1-ranked player ended with a straight-set loss to David Goffin at the Astana Open.
The 19-year-old Spaniard lost 7-5, 6-3 in his first tour match since winning the U.S. Open and capturing the No. 1 ranking.
“David was playing really, really well. To come back to competition is never easy,” Alcaraz said. “It’s really tough for me, for my confidence.”
Alcaraz came from 5-2 down to level the first set at 5-5, only to be broken again by his Belgian opponent.
“When you play against the World No. 1 on a big stage, big crowd, the fire inside gives you so much power to play your best tennis because you don’t have any choice,” Goffin said. “You have to fight and give your best and that was the case today.”
Second-seeded Daniil Medvedev and No. 3-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas both avoided similar upsets. Medvedev beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain 6-3, 6-1 and Tsitsipas ousted Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3. 6-4.