Antwerp | Murray keeps going
Former world number one Andy Murray reached the last four at the European Open in Antwerp — his first semi-final since the 2017 French Open — with a battling three-set win over Romania’s Marius Copil.
It was a tough one to get through Andy Murray
The 32-year-old British star, continuing his recovery following his career-threatening hip surgery earlier this year, defeated qualifier Copil after two-hours and 5-minutes, 6-3 6-7(7) 6-4 to meet Ugo Humbert of France for a place in the final.
Murray, now ranked a lowly 243 in the world, had the chance to wrap up the quarter-final when he had a match point in the second set tiebreak.
A loose forehand provided the Briton with a break in the first game but he lost that advantage in the fourth as Copil drew level for 2-2 but regained it in the next game and then clinched the opening set with a third break in the ninth with a down the line winner.
Murray maintained his dominance on serve by just dropping three points in the first five service games of the second set breaking his opponent again in the fourth game securing it on a smash.
After saving four more break points, Copil struck successfully to prevent Murray from serving out for the match, breaking the Scot to 15 and forcing a tie-break.
Copil then fended off a match point at 6-7 and levelled the match when he ran off the next three points, the final one on a Murray backhand error.
In the decider Murray regained control breaking Copil in the ninth game and serving out on his first match point with his ninth ace of the match
Murray, who is bidding to win his first title since Dubai in February 2017, was satisfied with his performance.
“I have not played loads of matches in the past few years, so when you get to the end of the match, it’s always difficult to serve it out. I played a bad game at 5-3 in the second set and after that I think he gained a lot of confidence. He served extremely well. He was being a lot more aggressive at the end of the second set and in the third, but thankfully I managed to get the break right at the end. It was a tough one to get through,” Murray said after the match.
His next opponent, Humbert, came back from one set down to beat the fifth seed Guido Pella 5-7 6-4 6-4.
In the top half of the draw, Italian teenager Jannik Sinner became the youngest ATP semi-finalist in five years (since 17-year-old Borna Coric at Basel in 2014) when he defeated Frances Tiafoe 6-4 3-6 6-3.
Sinner, 18, ranked 119, commented: “I think I played good today once more. It was not easy in the end. I was shaking a little bit,” said Sinner who defeated last year’s finalist and top seed Gael Monfils in the previous round.
However, he faces a daunting semi-final against three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka, seeded fourth and the only seed left in the draw, after the former world number three got past fellow 34-year-old Gilles Simon of France 6-3 6-7(6) 6-2 in his quarter-final.
Sinner, who lost to Wawrinka at the U.S. Open this year, will become the youngest ATP finalist since Kei Nishikori at Delray Beach in 2008 if he beats the experienced Swiss on Saturday.