Beijing | Murray reaches the last eight
Andy Murray has cleared another hurdle on his road back to full rehabilitation by winning two consecutive matches at a tournament when he beat compatriot Cameron Norrie in the second round of the China Open in Beijing.
I'm tired, I just had a sleep before coming. I mean, I'm really tired Andy Murray
In what was the first meeting between the two Britons, it wasn’t surprising to see the pair lock horns for supremacy and in Norrie’s case, bragging rights!
Murray won 7-6(6) 6-7(4) 6-1 and looked, after an excellent start, virtually out on his feet when he lost the second set, something he confirmed in a soft undertone to his supporting team in the players’ box.
Despite his evident exhaustion, Murray’s never say die spirit came to the fore in the third and he romped away to a 5-0 lead to eventually clinch the match after two-hours and 52-minutes.
During his on-court interview, the 32-year-old Scot: “I tried to shorten the points a lot at the end of the second set and in the third set, was trying to play more aggressive, coming to the net a lot more and just trying to finish the points quickly because when we were playing the long rallies, he was getting the better of them and making me run a lot.
“I was getting tired so I had to change the way the match was going and managed to shorten enough points at the end.”
The two know each other well as he revealed: “Me and Cam practised back home three or four times together before we came to Asia. He was getting the better of me in all the practices as well.
“Also, you know, I was a bit nervous before the match and I think maybe in the first set both of us were quite nervous and then in the second set we were going for the shots a little bit more.”
He also admitted it was ‘tricky’ playing someone you know quite well from your home country.
But he was delighted to have come through two tough matches within 24-hours which reflects well on his ability to recover physically but he was looking forward to having a day’s rest before taking on the top seeded Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals of this ATP 500 event.
In fact he had a 90-minute snooze between his match and going on to face the media in the interview room!
“I’m tired, I just had a sleep before coming. I mean, I’m really tired,” he told the assembled press.
Bearing in mind that he had defeated US Open semi-finalist Matteo Berrettini, ranked 13, on Tuesday for his biggest scalp since his return to singles tennis in mid-August – victory over two gruelling tie-break sets lasting just over two hours – it isn’t surprising that he is tired following his win over the 69th ranked Norrie.
Murray showed several flashes of irritation as the first set against the British No.3 went to the tie break, mumbling away to himself and his box courtside. He had broken for 5-4 only to drop his own serve when attempting to close out the set.
His demeanour improved after 65-minutes when he pocketed the set on a Norrie double fault to hand him the prize.
The 24-year-old Norrie gained control of the second set when he broke Murray’s serve in the sixth game as the former world number-one showed signs of fatigue struggling to catch his breath between points.
Norrie pulled ahead to 5-2 only to discover the qualities that lifted Murray to the top of the world game as the Scot pulled himself back into the match to force a second tiebreak which on this occasion, he lost.
Despite that setback, Murray’s battling qualities had been lit and he ran off with the decider to reach the last eight of a tournament for the first time since Shenzhen last year.
Meanwhile Dominic Thiem brought the day’s play to close when he dispatched the Chinese wild card Zhizhen Zhang 6-3 6-3 to face Murray.
Also through to quarters are Russia’s fourth seed Karen Khachanov, a 7-6(0) 7-6(5) winner over France’s Jeremy Chardy and Fabio Fognini, who scored a comfortable 6-3 6-4 win over Russia’s Andrey Rublev.
The bottom half of the draw will be played out on Thursday.