Murray Survives Scare, Federer One Step Closer To Final
Published on January 6 2017 6:11 am
Last Updated on January 6 2017 6:12 am
Andy Murray survived a scare to book his place in the semifinals of the Qatar Open with a hard-fought victory over Nicolas Almagro.
The world No. 1 began slowly in Doha and appeared frustrated for much of the match as he battled to a 7-6 (7), 7-5 success over the unseeded Spaniard.
It was the first time the pair had faced each other in almost three years and Murray's only defeat in five matches against the current world No. 44 had come at the 2008 French Open, when they met for the first time.
Despite those statistics and being a strong favourite for this one, the Scot was broken in the first game after dropping his first four service points and he struggled to recover from the stuttering start.
The next six games went with serve, although Murray squandered three break points in the fourth, before he eventually levelled at 4-4.
He finally wrapped up the opening set after being taken to a tie-break, but Almagro's resistance showed little sign of being broken.
The 31-year-old was clearly enjoying the challenge of taking on a superior opponent, much to the detriment of Murray who, after securing an early break in the second set, immediately surrendered the initiative as he served a double fault to lose the next game.
The set then followed a similar pattern to the first, with both players holding serve until Murray made a crucial breakthrough in the 11th game.
It took him 14 points to do so as Almagro once again dug in to save two potential breaks before eventually succumbing, and Murray, who won the competition in 2008 and 2009, then saw out the following game to seal his place in the last four.
"It was a tough match today, very close both sets, obviously," Murray told Eurosport.
Federer One Step Closer To Final
Roger Federer has Switzerland one step closer to a place in the Hopman Cup final after beating Frenchman Richard Gasquet in straight sets at Perth Arena.
The winner of the tie will face the USA in Saturday night's final and Federer sent down 11 aces in an impressive performance to win 6-1 6-4, getting the Swiss off to a perfect start.
The 17-time grand slam winner earned break points on Friday night against Gasquet, ranked 18th in the world, in each of his first three service games.
He couldn't convert the first, but converted the second to take a 3-1 lead. He consolidated that break with a service game to love.
The Swiss champ needed three chances to break a second time and took a 5-1 advantage before closing out the opening set in 26 minutes.
Federer broke Gasquet's serve again early in the second set to set up victory in just 56 minutes.
Kristina Mladenovic needs to beat Belinda Bencic in the women's singles to keep France in the tie and the tournament.