Murray survives seven match points in Dubai thriller
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 number one Murray needed to scrap for almost three hours against 33-year-old Kohlschreiber, with the pair duelling in a 30-minute second-set tiebreaker which determined the final direction of the epic quarter-final.
The Scot held off Kohlschreiber’s match points, but still needed eight set points to get into the decider.
Murray will next meet either French seventh seed Lucas Pouille or Russian qualifier Evgeny Donskoy, who sensationally eliminated Federer in the second round.
The British star 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 on Friday, 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. “After the rain delay I tried to be focused, just looking for the next point and trying to keep doing the same as before the rain. “I’m very happy I’m in the semi-finals now. I’ll try to recover and get ready for tomorrow.”