Two successful players who over recent years have suffered career threatening injuries, were in quarter final action at the Gijon Open in North-West Spain with vastly differing results.
A lot of control, super nice atmosphere. So I’ve enjoyed playing [here] a lot. And I’m super happy that I’m still in the tournament on the weekend and to be able to play at least another match here Dominic Thiem
Austria’s Dominic Thiem, who reached a career high of No.3 in the world rankings after winning the US Open in 2020 before suffering a major wrist injury, reached the semi-final with a comfortable 94-minute 6-4 6-3 victory over the fourth seeded Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina.
Britain’s Murray in contrast, a former world No.1 with three grand slam titles to his credit before major hip surgery blighted his career in 2017, fought hard over two hours and 27-minutes before conceding a possible semi-final place to America’s Sebastian Korda, 6-4 1-6 6-1.
For the 29-year-old Thiem, the week has been very lucrative in that he has now won three matches on the trot and if he wins the 250-level event, he will crack the top 100 again. Currently the win improves his ranking to 132 in world terms but he has to face the top seeded Andrey Rublev for a place in the final following the Muscovite’s 7-5 6-3 quarter final win over American Tommy Paul.
“From the first match on I’ve felt great on this court,” Thiem said after wins over Portugal’s Joao Sousa and Marcos Giron of the US before taking out Cerundolo.
“A lot of control, super nice atmosphere. So I’ve enjoyed playing [here] a lot. And I’m super happy that I’m still in the tournament on the weekend and to be able to play at least another match here.
“It’s very important for me. Because I’m still trying to climb up the rankings. Obviously, I’m still outside of the top 150 now. So, semi-finals on the ATP [tour] is helping a lot. Lots of points.
“So, it means a lot to me. It’s only the second semi-finals [this season].”
Murray, currently ranked 48, lost to Korda world ranked one place higher, but only after one of his trademark battles.
The British No. 3 conceded the opening set after falling two breaks of serve down before reducing the deficit to 5-4, but Korda managed to wrap up the first set after 56-minutes.
Murray responded in impressive fashion in the second set to draw level, saving four break points as he took a commanding 5-0 lead before the 22-year-old countered.
The 35-year-old Scot however, couldn’t maintain that level in the decider where his opponent turned the tables by winning five successive games of his own before serving out to love and book his place in the last four.
Korda will play Arthur Rinderknech in the semi-final after the Frenchman survived a major third set tie-break 18-16, saving nine match points in the process as he got the better of the second seeded Spaniard, Pablo Carreno Busta 4-6 6-3 7-6(16) on his sixth match point to seal his victory after some three hours of play.
Meanwhile in Florence Italy, the Unicredit Firenze Open semi-final line-up has also been completed with Felix Auger Aliassime facing Lorenzo Musetti and JJ Wolf taking on Mikael Ymer.
Canada’s Auger Aliassime made light work of American Brandon Nakashima by going through after 89-minutes 6-3 6-4 and said after his victory: “I am very pleased with my level.
“It was a great two sets of tennis. I think I served well. I could have been better on the second serve; he was winning a lot of points. I had to stay very focused until the end because you never know, matches can change quickly.”
The Canadian’s current objective is to reach the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin.
“There is still a lot of work to do to qualify for Turin,” he added “The race is still very close, very tight. I am going to try my best to go all the way this week. But tomorrow already it will be another tough opponent. It won’t be easy to win any match. But with the way I am playing now I have more chances of qualifying [for the Finals].”
Italy’s Musetti, his next opponent, carries the local’s hopes and is himself in good form following his 6-3 6-2 victory over American Mackenzie McDonald.
Wolf now is the sole American survivor but he had to battle hard with Kazak Alexander Bublic before progressing 3-6 7-5 6-1 while Sweden’s Ymer, the dark horse in the last four, ousted Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain, 6-4 6-2.