Murray sets up Ancic clash
Friday 13 February 2009
Andy Murray will face Mario Ancic for a place in the final of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam tomorrow after Marc Gicquel retired in the third set of their quarter-final.
The British number one took the first set on a tie-break but Gicquel, ranked 55 in the world, levelled impressively only to succumb to a thigh injury with the score at 7-6 (7/2) 4-6 3-0.
Murray was decidedly out of sorts in his narrow victory over Andreas Seppi yesterday but from the first rally today his timing was much improved.
Gicquel, 31, is something of a late developer, having only broken into the top 100 for the first time in 2006 when he was 29.
But he is a solid player and his serving was particularly impressive in the opening stages of the quarter-final.
Gicquel only earned his place in the main draw of the tournament as a lucky loser after Robin Soderling pulled out, but he certainly made the most of his second chance with wins over Evgeny Korolev and Paul-Henri Mathieu to reach the last eight.
The Frenchman adopted an aggressive strategy and was having some success coming to the net, taking Murray to deuce in the ninth game, but the Scot passed the test with flying colours.
The tie-break duly arrived after a largely uneventful first set and it was Murray, having had little success on the Gicquel serve thus far, who took the first mini-break when a volley from the Frenchman drifted just long.
The Scot cemented the break to move into a 4-1 lead and that swiftly became 5-1 before Murray wrapped up the tie-break 7-2.
Gicquel shrugged off that disappointment by rediscovering his impressive play at the start of the second set and forced a break point in Murray's opening service game - the first of the match.
The second seed was hitting the ball nicely but was struggling to get his first serve percentage above 50% - not that it mattered at 30-40 as Murray came up with a second-serve ace.
The British number one levelled at 1-1 and then finally created an opening on the Gicquel serve with a pinpoint return taking him to 15-40.
But a drop shot into the net from Murray allowed Gicquel to get back on terms and he saved two further break points before moving into a 2-1 lead.
Gicquel complained of a thigh problem after the seventh game and had it strapped up by the trainer.
It did not seem to affect him unduly, though, and more incisive attacking brought up a set point on the Murray serve at 4-5.
One of the longest rallies of the match ensued and it was the Scot who cracked first, mis-hitting a cross-court forehand well wide.
Having looked in control, Murray suddenly found himself in a decider but he took an immediate lead by finally breaking the Gicquel serve.
The Frenchman's movement was definitely being affected by his injury now and he let out a cry of pain stretching for a ball in the corner in the third game.
Murray took advantage to break again and Gicquel decided he could no longer carry on.
The British number one now goes on to face Ancic for the fifth time, with the big-serving Croatian, who beat Mikhail Youzhny earlier today, having won three of their previous meetings.
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