Andy Murray will face Jiri Lehecka in the semi-finals of the Qatar Open after beating French qualifier Alexandre Müller in three sets.
Murray fought back strongly after dropping the opening set to win 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 in two hours and three minutes over Muller, who defied his world ranking of 170 early in the match. The 35-year-old Scot, who knocked out German fourth seed Alexander Zverev in the previous round, was forced to produce some of tennis’ best again as he remained on course for his third title in Doha.
Murray told Amazon Prime in his in-court interview: “I had to start doing my shots a lot more. The first set I didn’t do enough with the ball and he dictated a lot of points and made me run a lot. Obviously I played a lot of tennis the last few days and that wasn’t going to give me the best chance to win the match, so I stepped up and started getting a few more chances. I was trying to get to the net when I got the chance and I managed to turn it over.”
Murray beat Fernando Verdasco in the 2017 Doha final – his last title before hip problems set in that summer – and now faces Czech Republic No 52 Lehecka, who upset top seed Andrey Rublev 4-6 , 6-4, 6. -3 earlier on Thursday.
Murray, now world No 70, broke Müller’s first serve to take a 2-0 lead, but the qualifier dominated the opening set with some extremely heavy ball hitting. The Scot, who was out on the baseline, dropped two break points at 3-4 in the eighth game and Muller made it 6-4 after 53 minutes as his level never dropped.
Murray looked to have his way with his opponent in the second set, taking the game from the Frenchman and breaking him twice to lead 5-0. Müller stemmed the tide by holding serve, but Murray was rewarded for his more aggressive approach as he took the second set 6-1 in 30 minutes to level the match.
In the decider, Murray was made to work much harder, but he maintained his intensity and produced more brilliant tennis, breaking Muller twice more before sealing victory with an emphatic serve.