Andy Murray beats Pablo Cuevas to reach last eight at China Open

Andy Murray at the China Open
Murray won the Shenzhen Open on Sunday

Andy Murray is through to the quarter-finals of the China Open after defeating Pablo Cuevas 6-2 6-2.

The Briton, seeded sixth, outclassed the 35th-ranked Uruguayan, breaking his serve five times before closing out victory in one hour and 19 minutes.

Murray, 27, will face US Open champion Marin Cilic in the last eight after the Croat beat Joao Sousa 6-3 6-3.

Spain's Rafael Nadal overcame German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk 6-3 6-4 earlier in Beijing.

The result boosts Murray's hopes of qualifying for November's season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London.

The Scot began the week 10th in the race for the eight places at the 02 Arena.

ATP Race To London (top eight qualify)
Qualified: 1st: Novak Djokovic (8,150 points); 2nd: Roger Federer (7,020); 3rd: Rafael Nadal (6,645)
Still to qualify: 4th: Stan Wawrinka (4,795), 5th: Marin Cilic (3,935), 6th: Kei Nishikori (3,845), 7th: David Ferrer (3,535), 8th: Tomas Berdych (3,510), 9th: Milos Raonic (3,440), 10th: Andy Murray (3,405)
Murray's schedule: Beijing - 500 points to the winner; Shanghai - 1,000; Paris - 1,000.

Murray, who served three aces, raced to a 4-0 lead and saved two break points in the seventh game before closing out the first set.

A stunning forehand earned him another break at the start of the second set as he again built a 4-0 advantage.

The Briton's progress was delayed when the ball dropped between his legs following a net cord, helping Cuevas recover one of the breaks.

However, Murray broke again immediately and a netted forehand from the Uruguayan ended the contest.

The Scot, who fought back from a set down to defeat Poland's Jerzy Janowicz in round one, is seeking back-to-back titles after winning the Shenzhen Open on Sunday.

Rafael Nadal China Open
Rafael Nadal beat Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-4 6-0 in the first round

Nadal, 28, had to fight hard before seeing off Gojowczyk in one hour and 43 minutes.

The Spaniard, playing his first tournament since recovering from the wrist injury that sidelined him after Wimbledon, was far from his fluent best, missing nine out of 11 break points against the world number 122.

He had to save three break points on his own serve in the final game before finally closing out victory.

Nadal faces Martin Klizan in the quarter-finals after Ernests Gulbis retired against the Slovakian when trailing 6-2 3-0.

Grigor Dimitrov, seeded fifth, will meet world number one Novak Djokovic after defeating Pablo Andujar 6-4 6-4, while third seed Tomas Berdych is also through having got past Viktor Troicki 6-3 6-4.

In the women's tournament, Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova had a walkover into the last eight after Venus Williams, who defeated Britain's Heather Watson in round one, withdrew with a viral illness.

Venus's sister, Serena Williams, plays Lucie Safarova for a spot in the quarters later on Thursday.

Elsewhere, Roberta Vinci beat 12th seed Ekaterina Makarova 6-1 0-6 7-5 and Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated seventh-seed Angelique Kerber 2-6 6-4 6-3.

Because of those results, Canada's Eugenie Bouchard and Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska, both of whom lost early in Beijing, are assured of making the eight-woman WTA Tour finals in Singapore.

Second seed Simona Halep overcame Andrea Petkovic 7-6 (7-4) 5-7 7-6 (7-1) after a topsy-turvy encounter featuring 17 breaks of serve. Romanian Halep then withdrew from the tournament because of a hip injury.

Halep's withdrawal means Ana Ivanovic moves straight through to the semi-finals, after she was a 6-3 7-5 winner over Sabine Lisicki.

Former US Open champion Sam Stosur defeated Alize Cornet 6-4 6-2.