Andy Murray and Roger Federer, remain on course for a semi-final showdown at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells after they continued their respective comebacks from illness and injury with routine victories. Federer, the world No 2, was in action for the first time since his tearful Australian Open final defeat and he showed few signs of rustiness with a 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 win over Frenchman Marc Gicquel in the second round. Federer has been out of action with back problems, but the three-time Indian Wells champion needed only 84 minutes to beat world No 52 Gicquel. Federer, 27, served 12 aces and won 92 per cent of first-serve points as Gicquel failed to even push the Swiss to a break point. Federer will now face big-hitting Ivo Karlovic in the third round after the Croat beat Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-4, 6-2. Murray, meanwhile, also advanced to the third round with a more hard-fought victory over Albert Montanes.
The Scot, 21, battled through 7-5, 6-3 in 1hr 36min in his first singles match since being forced to withdraw before his quarter-final with Richard Gasquet in Dubai last month due to a virus. Murray was broken in the third game of the match but levelled at 4-4 with one of his own before winning the opener after the Spaniard double faulted on set point in the 12th game. In the second set, 2007 Indian Wells semi-finalist Murray saved both break points he faced and broke the Spaniard in the eighth game before serving out to wrap up the win. "I thought I moved great, best I had moved in quite a while," said Murray. "I feel fine. I didn't feel like I was too out of breath after long rallies. I felt like I could have gone for at least another 45 minutes or so."
He will next face Paul Henri-Mathieu, who defeated the Italian Potito Starace 6-4, 6-7 (13-11), 6-4 in two and a half hours. Tommy Robredo, the 15th seed from Spain, also made serene progress to the thrid round with a routine 6-1, 6-4 win over the Russian player Igor Kunitsyn which took just 57 minutes. * With agencies