Murray and Nadal squeeze through
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The top two seeds at the Barcelona Open survived scares before progressing into the semi-finals whilst Maria Sharapova continues to take advantage of her wildcard at the Stuttgart Open where she has made the last four as well.
It was obviously a very tough match. It was kind of the opposite of the match we had last week, where probably today he deserved to win, Andy Murray
First Andy Murray had to dig really deep to avenge his defeat at the Monte Carlo Masters last week, recovering from a poor servicing period in the opening set to eventually go through 2-6 6-4 7-6(4) against the Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas, the beaten finalist in the Principality.
The world No1 was clearly second best as Vinolas outpowered him on all fronts to take the opening set and then had to save three break points in the ninth game before levelling the match at a set-all.
But the Spaniard look set to take control again in the decider when he broke for a 1-0 lead only for Murray to level again and hold for the tie-break where he stormed into a 4-0 lead to eventually win the match.
"It was obviously a very tough match. It was kind of the opposite of the match we had last week, where probably today he deserved to win, he created a lot more chances, he served for the match and couldn’t quite get it," Murray said after the win.
"Last week I had 4-0, I felt like I had all of the chances and sometimes on clay matches happen this way so I’m very happy to get through.
"I started coming to the net more and volleying, I felt like I started to dictate more of the points and that was a big difference."
Murray will play Dominic Thiem for a place in the final, the Austrian having booked his place by easing past Yuichi Sugita of Japan 6-1 6-2.
It was then the turn of Rafa Nadal who was initially stunned by the unseeded qualifier from South Korea, the 20-year-old Hyeon Chung who came out with an aggressive game to leap into a 3-1 lead.
But it didnÈt take long for the newly crowned Monte Carlo champion to work him out and assert himself over the youngster and claim his semi-final spot 7-6(1) 6-2.
"I have to be honest, I had hardly seen him play, all I had to go on were videos which I watched yesterday," Nadal said of the little-known Chung.
"These young players have a lot of character so I took to the court with respect, perhaps too much, but in the second set I started dominating."
Nadal, who is chasing a tenth Barcelona title, now faces Argentine Horacio Zeballos who beat Karen Khachanov of Russia 6-4 6-1.
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In Stuttgart Maria Sharapova took out Estonian Anett Kontaveit 6-3 6-4 to reach the semis at the Stuttgart Open.
The 30-year-old playing her first tournament following15-month ban for taking performance enhancing drugs, is slowly accumulating sufficient points to be able to play the qualifying events for both Roland Garros and Wimbledon without requesting a wildcard which overall victory would assure her of.
Speaking in an on-court interview, Sharapova, who next faces Kristina Mladenovic, said: "I thought I had a really good rhythm. When you don’t know your opponent too well, the first six games we were trying to figure each other out but holding serve quite comfortably. When I got the opportunity, I felt I really rolled with it and gained confidence from it."
Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic, her next opponent, defeated Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3 6-2 to secure her place in the last four while number five Simona Halep swept past Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia, 6-3 6-1 with her next opponent being wild card Laura Siegemund who in turn beat Karolina Pliskova 7-6(3) 5-7 6-3.