Murray aces have Mahut collecting his cards

Andy Murray progressed to the semi-finals of the Marseilles Open with a hard-fought victory over Nicolas Mahut yesterday.

Murray, the world No 11, defeated his French opponent 7-5, 7-6 in just under an hour and a quarter.

The British No 1 awaits the winner of the all-French clash between Gilles Simon and No 8 seed Paul-Henri Mathieu.

Both Murray and Muhat exhibited a strong serve, with Murray serving 14 aces, four more than the 26-year-old Frenchman.

The match went with serve in the first set, Mahut serving to stay in the game at 5-4, and again at 6-5, when the Scot broke to win the set 7-5.

Murray then held serve to win the first game of the second set before Mahut did the same to level. Mahut pushed his opponent to deuce in the third game, but Murray held on, and the match continued in the same manner with the pair trading quickfire games.

The 21-year-old Murray won the ninth game to love, and Mahut found himself serving to stay in the match.

Murray moved to 40-15 to claim two match points, but the home favourite reeled off three points for game point before the Briton hauled him back to deuce. However, Mahut went back ahead and levelled the game at 5-5.

Murray held serve to go 6-5 up. A close-fought 12th game saw Mahut squander one chance to level, but he held his nerve to make it 6-6 and force a tie-break.

The Angers-born player won the first two points before Murray hit back for 4-2. Mahut levelled at 4-4 with his 10th ace of the game, but Murray won the next two points to move to match point at 6-4. He then clinched the match on his own serve to move into the last four.

Croatia's Mario Ancic is also through to the semi-finals after defeating Sweden's Robin Soederling 6-3, 6-7, 6-2.

The former world No 1 Monica Seles yesterday officially retired from professional tennis, having not played competitively since 2003. Seles, 34, won 53 singles and six doubles tournaments, earning nine Grand Slam singles titles along the way. In 1990, at the age of 16 she became the youngest winner of the French Open. She first became world No 1 in March 1991, a rank she would hold for a total of 178 weeks.

Seles was stabbed in the back by a spectator during a match in Hamburg in April 1993. She was not able to play again for more than two years. When she did return, she completed a comeback win at the Canadian Open, then reached the US Open final the following month. She then won her ninth Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January 1996.

"Tennis has been and will always be a huge part of my life," Seles said. "I have for some time considered a return to professional play, but I have now decided not to pursue that."

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