Andy Murray win over Lucas Lacko moves him closer to ATP Finals

Murray beat Lucas Lacko 6-3 7-5

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The Independent Online

Andy Murray is one win away from playing in his first final for more than 14 months, after recording his second successive straight-sets victory at the Shenzhen Open in China.

The 27-year-old Scot needed just 79 minutes to beat Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko 6-3 7-5 and earn a semi-final meeting with Argentina’s Juan Monaco.

Murray, who is playing in his first tournament since his quarter-final exit from the US Open three weeks ago, has not played in a final since his historic Wimbledon triumph last summer. He has also slipped out of the world’s top 10 for the first time for six years and needs to build his ranking points total if he is to qualify for the year-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London.

The eight places at the O2 Arena go to the players who have earned the most ranking points during the year and Murray is currently 11th on the list.

The world No 11 is playing in China three weeks in a row – he competes in the China Open in Beijing next week and then in the Shanghai Masters – as he attempts to overhaul some of the players currently ahead of him in the race for places in London. Lacko, the world No 85, had lost his two previous meetings with Murray without winning a set. The 26-year-old Slovakian forced four break points in the match but was unable to convert any of them. Murray also had four break points but, crucially, converted one in each set. Lacko dropped his serve in the second game of the opening set and in  the penultimate game of the second.

Monaco has won two of his four matches against Murray, though their meeting in today’s semi-final will be their first for four years. The 30-year-old Argentinian, who beat Richard Gasquet 7-6, 6-4 in the quarter-finals, is a former world No 10 but is currently ranked No 97. The other semi-final will see Spain’s Tommy Robredo take on Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo. Robredo beat Andreas Seppi 6-4, 6-7, 6-3, while Giraldo beat Viktor Troicki, who had knocked out David Ferrer in the previous round, 7-6, 6-3.

Eugenie Bouchard will have the chance to avenge her defeat by Petra Kvitova in the Wimbledon final, when the Canadian and the Czech meet in the final of the Wuhan Open. Bouchard beat Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-3 in the semi-finals, while Kvitova beat Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina 6-3, 7-5.

Whoever wins today’s final, will secure their place in the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore.