Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic advance to semis in Qatar

By The Sports Xchange
Britain's Andy Murray. Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI
1 of 2 | Britain's Andy Murray. Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo

No. 1 Andy Murray of Great Britain survived a scare in his quarterfinal match while No. 2 Novak Djokovic of Serbia had no problem as both players won Thursday matches to advance to the semifinals of the Qatar Open in Doha, Qatar.

Murray was pushed by Spain's Nicolas Almagro but managed to extend his winning streak to 27 consecutive match wins with a 7-6 (4), 7-5 victory.


Murray had his serve broken in the opening game and trailed 3-1 in the opening set against the 44th-ranked Almagro. Murray fought back to win the first set in a tiebreaker.

Both players broke serve early in the second set, before Murray got the pivotal break in the 14-point 11th game.

"It was a very tough match," Murray said. "Nico was playing very aggressive, going for his shots and it was hard conditions tonight. It was very windy so it was tough to get into much of a rhythm.


"I served pretty good; second serve points won was where the difference was in the match. I won 61 percent of mine, I think he won 48 percent of his, so that was the difference."

Murray's semifinal opponent will be third-seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, who saved all seven break points he faced to beat fifth-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5, 6-3.

"Try to play a little differently and little bit more smart," Berdych said. "I think I've done it quite well. I had a tough opponent. So it was a big test for me today."

Neither the conditions nor the opponent bothered Djokovic, who rolled to 6-3, 6-3 victory over 38-year-old qualifier Radek Stepanek.

"It's same for both players, so there is not much you can do," Djokovic said of the conditions. "The force of the nature is like that. You have to accept and try to embrace it, really be one with the wind, otherwise it's not going to be good day for you.

"I thought in terms of my performance, under the circumstances I put the level up again, which is great. So everything is going in the right direction."


Djokovic's semifinal opponent will be Fernando Verdasco of Spain, who upset sixth-seeded Ivo Karlovic 6-2, 7-5 despite 13 aces by Karlovic.

--Fifth-seeded Rafael Nadal of Spain will meet top-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada in the quarterfinals of the Brisbane International after both posted convincing victories in this tournament in Australia.

Nadal was dominant in his 6-1, 6-1 victory over No. 51-ranked Mischa Zverev of Germany, and Raonic recorded a 6-3, 6-2 opening-round win over Argentine Diego Schwartzman.

"I played a great match," said Nadal. "It's difficult to say something negative, because in general I saw after, on the video screen, like, 30 winners and just a few unforced errors. I was returning very well, I think. A lot of great passing shots. The only thing, I am not sure about was my percentage of serves. I think that was not that good tonight."

Regarding Raonic, Nadal said, "He's one of the toughest opponents on tour today, without a doubt. He's the World No. 3. His serve is huge, and he improved a lot from the baseline, too. It's a match that you cannot do too many mistakes if you want to really have any chance. You need to be really focused with your serve and then try to play aggressively on the return. I am going to try to make it happen, knowing that it's going to be an extremely difficult match."


Raonic was aggressive in his match, but thought he should have attacked even more.

"I probably should have approached 12 more times and I probably should have won a few more," said Raonic. "I definitely want to, especially at the beginning, since obviously I didn't take care of my serve so well. I hesitated, but also, with him, you've got to understand that he's quite quick. So rarely do you get him sort of reaching for balls.

He is looking forward to the match against Nadal.

"It's a great task," Raonic said. "I feel like I'm doing a lot of things well and, hopefully, I can match up and play some good tennis."

Fourth-seeded Dominic Thiem beat Australian wild-card entry Sam Groth 7-6 (5), 6-3 to move into a quarterfinal match against seventh-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, a 6-2, 6-4 winner over France's Nicolas Mahut.

--Roberto Bautista-Agut advanced to the quarterfinals at the Chennai Open in Chennai, India, by beating Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil 6-3, 6-2.

The second-seeded Argentine will next face 2008 champion Mikhail Youzhny of Russia. The seventh-seeded Youzhny beat Renzo Olivo of Argentina 6-1, 7-5.


Also, Aljaz Bedene of Great Britain defeated fourth-seeded Martin Klizan of Slovakia 7-6 (3), 6-7 (3), 7-6 (2). He will meet fifth-seeded Frenchman Benoit Paire in the quarterfinals. Paire beat India's Yuki Bhambri 6-3, 6-4.

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