Murray cruises in Cincinnati
Andy Murray showed some promising signs on his way to a straight sets win, 6-3 6-3, over Portugal's Joao Sousa in the Cincinnati Masters.
Eighth seed Murray, who previously won this tournament in both 2008 and 2011, took 38 minutes to wrap up the first set and, while not at his best, there were signs that he is again heading in the right direction.
Sousa rarely presented the Scot with much of a threat from that point on, with the former Wimbledon champion taking the second set by the same score, finishing the match in just 71 minutes.
After what could perhaps best be described as a solid performance, Murray told Sky Sports: "It was fine. I got the win and that's really the most important thing.
"It's very different conditions here this week with a lot of guys struggling with the ball and I am pleased to get through."
Murray will now take on American 11th seed John Isner in the next round of what is his final tournament before the US Open and he admitted: "I think the conditions here are more like the US Open than last week.
"I want to just try to keep doing better each week and I just want to make sure that when I'm ahead in matches like today I see it through and don't let them back in."
Murray won the three opening games in less than 10 minutes but Sousa - the world No 37 - finally held after the advantage changed hands numerous times during the fourth game.
There was an exchange of games before Sousa broke Murray for the first time, yet the Scot was not for turning and wrapped up the first set before 40 minutes lit up on the scoreboard.
Although Sousa frustrated Murray at 2-1 in the second set and eked out two more games, the former Wimbledon champion was in cruise control despite the Cincinnati heat and breezed to victory.
Murray's next oppoenent Isner beat Australian Marinko Matosevic 6-3 7-6.
Murray might have been joined by fellow Briton James Ward in the last 16, but it was not to be.
The English qualifier, who had shocked Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the second round, fell to France's Julien Benneteau in straight sets and missed out on the chance to face Jerzy Janowicz.
Ward's serve let him down against world No 41 Benneteau, who needed just one hour and four minutes on the hard outdoor court to win 6-2 6-2.
Roger Federer needed more than two hours to beat Vasek Pospisil 7-6 5-7 6-2. The Swiss former World No 1 took control in the middle of the third set, breaking the Canadian twice in a row.