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Lawn Tennis: YA BEAUTY! AND THE BEAST; TENNIS: RED LETTER DAY FOR SCOT Murray thrilled to beat man-mountain Max.

Byline: By Elanor Preston

ANDY MURRAY looked in hot form as his Wimbledon warm-up continued with an impressive victory over a player tagged the Beast of Belarus.

The Scot slayed 6ft 5ins giant Max Mirnyi 7-6 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals of the Red Letter Days Open in Nottingham.

After a difficult few months the 19-year-old's form this week has been a revelation and couldn't be better timed with the biggest tournament of the year just four days away.

His first-round victory against Dmitry Tursunov and yesterday's win over big-hitting Mirnyi was the first time since February that Murray, who showed no ill-effects of the fall he suffered in his first-round match, had won back-to-back matches. As Wimbledon edges ever closer, Murray is looking more and more like the player who made the third round there a year ago.

He said: "Obviously it helps when you've won two matches and you've got a Grand Slam coming up the following week. I'm really looking forward to playing at Wimbledon now.

"I think everything's getting better and better each match.

"The thing that makes me most happy is how well I served and how well I played the big points which you have to do against guys like that to win.

"For your confidence it's obviously great to beat a guy who you know is playing well and has a lot of confidence. He's definitely in the top 20 grass-court players in the world."

Murray, who will face Italian Andreas Seppi in today's quarterfinals, has a great chance of matching the performance he put in to win his first ATP Tour title in February.

He said: "I think if I can get through against Seppi, once you are into the semi-finals anything can happen, especially with the support I'm going to get here.

"I do have a good chance of winning.

"I'm going to have to play really, really well. To win a tournament at 19 is really, really difficult. It's definitely there for the taking.

"I wanted to prove to myself I could play well on grass and I think I've done that in my first two matches. Now the draw's opened up quite a lot in the bottom half and I'm looking to go quite a bit further in the tournament."

Mirnyi was well impressed with Murray's form and said: "I didn't need to play him to know how good he was.

"I'd seen enough over the course of the last year to know he's a world-class player. Today was just confirmation of that. I think he'll be tough to beat at Wimbledon."

Spaniard Rafael Nadal has been seeded second for Wimbledon behind three-times winner Roger Federer.

France's Amelie Mauresmo is top women's seed with defending champion Venus Williams seventh.

CAPTION(S):

FIST-CLASS: Andy Murray shows his delight at beating Max Mirnyi, right
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 22, 2006
Words:473
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