Shanghai, 15 October 2011 | AFP

Qualifier Matt Ebden’s run at the ATP’s Shanghai Masters ended at the hands of red hot Andy Murray on Friday.

Defending champion Murray, who cantered to a 6-3 6-2 win, looked in the groove early on against qualifier Ebden, pressuring the Australian’s serve before going on a seven-game winning run from 2-3 in the first set.

Ebden slowed Murray’s charge but the Scottish second seed, seeking his third straight title on the ATP tour, sealed the win with a second break after a fierce forehand. He hit 19 winners in total against 12 unforced errors.

“I created loads of chances. I thought I played better in the second set. I thought I hit the ball a bit better,” said Murray, adding he was more tense than he had felt over the past few weeks and could have been more clinical.

When asked about how he felt being the hot favourite to lift the title, he said: “There’s still some very good players left in the tournament. So I just need to keep concentrating on the guys that are in front of me.”

Murray, fast closing in on the absent Roger Federer’s number three ranking, is on a 13-match winning streak since losing to Rafael Nadal at the US Open, winning the Thailand Open and the Japan Open during his all-conquering run.

Next up for the Scot is Japan’s 47th-ranked Kei Nishikori, who eased to a straightforward 6-4 6-3 win over Ukrainian 12th seed Alexandr Dolgopolov.

Earlier, third seed David Ferrer recovered from losing the first set to beat Andy Roddick 6-7(5) 6-2 7-6(2).

After a first set that went with serve, 10th seed Roddick drew first blood when he clinched the tie-break but Ferrer hit back strongly in the second set to break the big-serving American twice.

Roddick was match point down in the 10th game of the third set but kept his nerve to level at 5-5 and force a tie-break. Ferrer secured two crucial mini-breaks and sealed the win after more than two-and-a-half hours.

“I feel confident. This is very important because some moments I didn’t play really well. This tournament, you know, in important moments I served really well,” said the Spaniard, who hit 11 aces and was unbroken.

Nishikori, playing in his first Masters quarter-final, looked in control throughout his win over Dolgopolov.

The 21-year-old Japanese broke once in the first set and three times in the second, withstanding nine aces in total from the racket of Dolgopolov and saving six of seven break points.

“I think I started well today. I knew he was going to hit a lot of slice and I had to be careful. I was trying not to go for too much, just trying to be steady on the court and that worked,” he said.

Nishikori, who shocked fourth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga earlier this week, was already set to become the highest-ranked Japanese male player ever, having previously equalled the retired Shuzo Matsuoka’s record ranking of 46th.

But winning a place in the semifinals means he will now rise to around number 32 in the world.