Dubai: Roger Federer defeated Feliciano Lopez of Spain 7-5, 6-3 on Wednesday to reach the quarterfinals of the Dubai Championships.
Federer broke the 15th-ranked Lopez in the final game to end a tight opening set. The second set was more routine, breaking the Spaniard to lead 5-3 and closing out the match with a volley winner from the net.
Federer will face Mikhail Youzhny, who defeated Mardy Fish of the United States 6-2, 7-6 (0).
The third-ranked Swiss player is aiming for his fifth title in Dubai. Federer lost in the final last year to Novak Djokovic.
While earlier, Novak Djokovic struggled to his ninth straight win this season, defeating Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine 7-6 (5), 6-3.
Andy Murray also made it through to the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Marco Chiudinelli of Switzerland.
The top-ranked Djokovic looked rusty at times in his opening win against Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, and his victory over Stakhovsky was anything but routine.
Stakhovsky was 4-3 up in the first-set tiebreaker but two costly unforced errors let Djokovic off the hook and the Serb took the set when the 74th-ranked Ukrainian hit a forehand long.
Djokovic was 3-1 down in the second set but reeled off five straight games to set up a quarterfinal against fellow Serb Janko Tipsarevic, who beat Flavio Cipolla of Italy 6-7 (2), 6-1, 6-1.
Djokovic, who won the Australian Open last month for his third Grand Slam title in a row, said his experience was the key in his win over Stakhovsky.
"Let's say it's probably the fact that the difference between the top players and maybe the lower-ranked players is actually those moments, and managing to keep your composure and cope with the pressure and just focus, have an extra focus, mental strength," he said.
"There is not much difference in the shots. We don't hit, I don't know, 10 miles stronger than our opponents."
Fish's loss to Youzhny was another setback to what has already been a disappointing start to 2012.
After replacing Andy Roddick as the top-ranked American last year, Fish has struggled this season. He lost in the second round of the Australian Open and was beaten by 388th-ranked Albano Olivetti in the Marseille quarterfinals last week. He did help the United States rout Switzerland 5-0 in the Davis Cup.
Murray looked more like the player that reached the Australian Open semifinals. He broke the 185th-ranked Chiudinelli early in the first set and moved him around the court with ease. He ended the first set with an ace.
The second set was closer as both players held serve for the first eight games. But Murray broke Chiudinelli to go up 5-4 and won the match with an unreturnable serve.
"Yeah, I definitely played better," Murray said. "Still wasn't moving as good as I would have liked, but served well today. Less mistakes today and served well, so it was good."
Murray will play fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych, who beat Lukas Lacko of Slovakia 6-1, 6-2.