A visibly frustrated Andy Murray eventually saw off qualifier Bu Yunchaokete to reach the third round of the Surbiton Trophy as he continues his preparations ahead of Wimbledon.
The 36-year-old skipped the French Open to focus on his grass-court season and give himself the best preparation for Wimbledon next month.
Murray, a two-time Wimbledon champion, is ranked 43rd and needs to climb around 10 positions to be seeded in SW19.
He increased those chances with a hard-fought 7-6 (1) 6-4 win over Yunchaokete, who is 130 places below Murray in the rankings.
Internet issues on the umpire’s scoring system led to a slight delay in starting the match and it took Murray a while to get going once things got under way.
As with his first-round win over Chung Hyeon on Monday, Murray needed little time to hit his stride as he looked to back up his claims that he remains among the top 10 players on his favourite surface.
Chinese qualifier Yunchaokete had beaten Briton Harry Wendelken in the opening round but the step up in class left him at the mercy of Murray.
Two aces saw Murray take the third game and he broke serve in the sixth only to have Yunchaokete break back immediately, with the Briton throwing his racket to the ground in frustration.
Yunchaokete was starting to grow in confidence as he held to love to leave Murray grumbling away at the other end.
— LTA (@the_LTA) June 7, 2023
Two set points for Murray were not taken and he greeted another error with a cry of “I don’t know what is going on with my game” as the first set headed into a tie-break.
The self-administered pep-talk seemed to work as Murray dominated, this time letting out a roar of joy as he took the first set.
The outbursts of anger continued in the second set with both players still unable to put clear distance between the scores.
Murray eventually maintained a high enough level to see off the spirited Yuchanokete and advance into the next stage as he aims to go one better than his semi-final place at Surbiton 12 months ago.
Former world number one Murray will go on to play Jason Kubler in the quarter-finals on Friday after the Australian beat Britain’s Ryan Peniston 6-3 7-6 (5).
Despite his own frustrations, Murray felt Yuchanokete had put up a solid display.
“I saw him in the locker room afterwards, he said he had played a little bit as a junior, but it was his first time as a pro,” Murray said, quoted in The Scotsman.
“He actually said it was his favourite surface to play on – he said he just really enjoys playing on it.
“He is very high energy and positive, he played over 100 matches last year which is pretty rare. I think he is going to be a good player.”
Murray also addressed some of the issues around the shock announcement of the PGA Tour and DP World Tour merging their commercial operations with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series.
Three-time grand-slam champion Murray had himself previously turned down a lucrative appearance fee to play in an exhibition match in Saudi Arabia because of concerns over the country’s human rights record.
“I wouldn’t play (in Saudi Arabia), no. If I was one of the golfers who stuck with the PGA, I would probably be a bit frustrated and feel a bit let down,” Murray said.
“I guess there have been lots of different sporting events there over the last few years. There have been a lot of major boxing fights there, there’s the golf, I think there was a Formula One race there too.
“I would imagine it will only be a matter of time before we see tennis tournaments played there too.
“I saw it this morning, I don’t really know genuinely any of the details apart from the tweets I saw. I want to see a little bit more about what that means and what that looks like.”