MUR­RAY SUR­VIVES

Wins marathon bat­tle against Kohlschreiber

New Straits Times - - Sport -

ANDY Mur­ray saved seven match points to reach the semi-fi­nals of the Dubai Cham­pi­onships with a marathon 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (20/18), 6-1 win over Ger­many’s Philipp Kohlschreiber on Thurs­day.

The top seed man­aged to avoid join­ing sec­ond seed Stan Wawrinka and seven-time win­ner Roger Fed­erer on the side­lines af­ter the Swiss pair crashed out in ear­lier rounds.

But World No 1 Mur­ray needed to scrap and strug­gle for al­most three hours against 33-year-old Kohlschreiber, with the pair duelling in a 31-minute sec­ond-set tiebreaker which de­ter­mined the fi­nal di­rec­tion of the epic quar­ter-fi­nal.

“It was very re­ward­ing to come through a match like that and ob­vi­ously I’m very pleased to get through it,” Mur­ray said.

“I would have been very dis­ap­pointed if I’d lost the sec­ond set, but also, I didn’t feel like I was play­ing badly.

“I played a poor tiebreak in the first set, but apart from that, I felt I was play­ing pretty well and he was play­ing re­ally good stuff.”

The Scot held off Kohlschreiber’s match points, but still needed eight set points to take the con­test into a de­ci­sive fi­nal set.

The re­sult ended Kohlschreiber’s quest for a 400th match win.

Thurs­day’s dra­matic sec­ond set equalled five other 20-18 tiebreaks recorded since tiebreak scores were first kept in 1991.

Such was the drama that Mur­ray and Kohlschreiber for­got to change ends at 15/15, in­stead chang­ing at 16/16.

“I’ve never played a tiebreak that long ever. Not in ju­niors, noth­ing even close to that, I’ll prob­a­bly never play an­other one like that again,” Mur­ray said.

“I’ve have been play­ing on the tour for 11, 12 years now, and noth­ing’s been close to that.”

Mur­ray will next meet French sev­enth seed Lu­cas Pouille who de­feated Rus­sian qual­i­fier Evgeny Don­skoy — the man who stunned Fed­erer — 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (7/2).

Pouille, who has lost all three matches he has played against Mur­ray, com­pleted his quar­ter­fi­nal win at 1.46am yes­ter­day in Dubai.

Mur­ray has never won the Dubai ti­tle, but came close in 2012 when he was run­ner-up to Fed­erer.

In the bot­tom half of the draw, fourth seed Gael Mon­fils fired 10 aces but still crashed out 6-3, 7-5 to Fer­nando Ver­dasco.

The French show­man was un­able to make a ma­jor im­pres­sion in a match which was paused for al­most half an hour in the clos­ing stages due to light rain.

Spain’s Ver­dasco will play his sec­ond semi-fi­nal of the sea­son, fac­ing Dutch­man Robin Haase, a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 win­ner over Bos­nian Damir Dzumhur.

Mon­fils lost for the first time in four meet­ings against Ver­dasco, with the un­seeded Spa­niard tak­ing charge from the start.

Ver­dasco spent 35 min­utes in win­ning the open­ing set and set about con­sol­i­dat­ing in the sec­ond.

The 33-year-old, ranked 35th, broke for 3-2 with Mon­fils sav­ing three break points in the sev­enth game to stay in touch.

But Ver­dasco then pro­duced a love game for 5-3 just be­fore rain stopped play. The Spa­niard fi­nally pre­vailed af­ter 81 min­utes.

“I played al­most a per­fect match,” Ver­dasco said. “I’m very happy, it was a re­ally com­plete match in all the ways that you can imag­ine.”

REUTERS PIC

Andy Mur­ray in ac­tion against Philipp Kohlschreiber in the Dubai Cham­pi­onship on Thurs­day.

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