Mur­ray mud­dles through

Strug­gling world No 1 digs deep to beat his Monte Carlo con­queror and reach last four of the Barcelona Open.

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Andy Mur­ray gained re­venge on Spain’s Al­bert Ramos-Vi­no­las but was pushed all the way in a gru­elling three-hour en­counter 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 to make the Barcelona Open semi-fi­nals yes­ter­day.

Ramos-Vi­no­las beat the world No 1 on Mur­ray’s re­turn from an elbow in­jury in the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters last week.

He threat­ened to re­peat that up­set when he served for the match in the third set.

How­ever, Mur­ray, who ac­cepted a late wild card to the event in the Cata­lan cap­i­tal to gain match prac­tice ahead of next month’s French Open, bat­tled back to edge out the world No 19 in a fi­nal set tiebreak.

“It was ob­vi­ously a very tough match,” Mur­ray said.

“It was kind of the op­po­site of the match we had last week where prob­a­bly to­day he de­served to win. He cre­ated a lot more chances, he served for the match and couldn’t quite get it.

“Last week I had 4-0 [in the third set], I felt like I had all of the chances. Some­times on clay matches hap­pen this way, so very happy to get through be­cause it was very tough.”

Ramos-Vi­no­las is in the form of his life hav­ing risen to a ca­reer high rank­ing af­ter reach­ing the fi­nal in Monte Carlo and he dom­i­nated the open­ing stages, tak­ing five straight games af­ter Mur­ray started with a com­fort­able hold.

Mur­ray edged the se­cond with the only break in the 10th game.

The Scot, though, failed to build on that mo­men­tum as he was bro­ken in the first game of the third set.

How­ever, Ramos-Vi­no­las had to take an in­jury time­out af­ter twist­ing his an­kle when lead­ing 2-1 and Mur­ray pounced to break back at 2-2.

Ramos-Vi­no­las had the chance to serve it out when he broke again for 5-4, but nerves seemed to get the bet­ter of him as three er­rors handed Mur­ray the break back.

Mur­ray raced out to a 4-0 lead in the tiebreak and saw it out as Ramos-Vi­no­las’s ef­forts over the past two weeks fi­nally be­gan to take their toll. The Wim­ble­don cham­pion faces Do­minic Thiem in to­day’s semi-fi­nals af­ter the Aus­trian ended Ja­panese lucky loser Yuichi Sugita’s un­likely run to the quarters 6-1, 6-2.

Sugita lost in qual­i­fy­ing and was only handed a place in the main draw af­ter com­pa­triot Kei Nishikori’s late with­drawal with a wrist in­jury.

Thiem had far too much qual­ity for the world No 91 as the Aus­trian wrapped up vic­tory in un­der an hour on court.

also en­joyed a com­fort­able af­ter­noon as his quest for a 10th Barcelona ti­tle con­tin­ued un­hin­dered with a 7-6, 6-2 win over Korean qual­i­fier Hyeon Chung.

The 14-time grand slam cham­pion had to bat­tle back from a break down in the first set to take it on a tiebreak be­fore romp­ing through the se­cond.

“I gave him a bit too much re­spect,” Nadal said. “At the start he was dom­i­nat­ing, but I think once I broke back to 3-3 the match was more in my hands.”

Nadal will be the favourite to reach the fi­nal when he takes on Ar­gen­tine who beat Rus­sia’s Karen Khachanov 6-4, 6-1, in the last four.

He cre­ated a lot more chances, he served for the match and couldn’t quite get it Andy Mur­ray World No 1 com­ments on op­po­nent Al­bert Ramos-Vi­no­las

David Ramos / Getty Im­ages

Manu Fer­nan­dez / AP Photo

Andy Mur­ray strug­gled to get the bet­ter of Al­bert Ramos-Vi­no­las yes­ter­day.

Ron­ald Wit­tek / EPA

Maria Shara­pova has yet to drop a set since re­turn­ing to ten­nis ac­tion fol­low­ing a 15-month dop­ing ban.

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