Andy Murray beats Lucas Pouille to reach Dubai Championships final

Andy Murray

Britain’s Andy Murray beat Frenchman Lucas Pouille 7-5 6-1 to reach his second Dubai Championships final.

The world number one, who was involved in a 31-minute tie-break in his quarter-final, struggled in the first set against seventh seed Pouille.

The pair broke each other twice before Murray took the set after 68 minutes with his third break.

The final set was a one-sided affair as the Scot set up a meeting with Fernando Verdasco in Saturday’s final.

Spaniard Verdasco, 33, beat Dutchman Robin Haase 7-6 (7-5) 5-7 6-1.

“It was tough and I made a lot of mistakes,” Murray said. “But there was some good stuff in there.

“I think potentially the match yesterday had something to do with that – sometimes if your legs are a little bit tired, the serve is one of the first things that goes.

“As the match went on, I started serving a bit better and that helped me.”

Murray, 29, is into his second final of the year but has never won the title in Dubai, losing to Roger Federer in his previous final appearance in 2012.

Playing his first tournament since his fourth-round defeat at the Australian Open in January, the Scot could extend his lead at the top of the world rankings with victory on Saturday.

World number two Novak Djokovic was knocked out of the Mexico Open quarter-finals in straight sets by Australian Nick Kyrgios on Thursday.

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Murray wins after saving seven match points in 31-minute tie-break

andy murray

Andy Murray saved seven match points in a 31-minute second-set tie-break before beating Philipp Kohlschreiber in the Dubai Championships quarter-finals.

The world number one needed eight set points to edge the German 20-18 in the tie-break and level the match.

No men’s tour-level match has featured a tie-break with more than 38 points since 1991 – six have finished 20-18.

Murray then raced to victory in only 30 minutes in the final set to win 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (20-18) 6-1.

The Briton, who said he had “never played a tie-break like that in my life”, will face Lucas Pouille or Roger Federer’s conqueror Evgeny Donskoy in the semi-final.

Fernando Verdasco and Robin Haase will meet in the other last-four tie.

A marathon tie-break

Murray, who is playing his first tournament since his fourth-round defeat at the Australian Open in January, looked out of sorts in the first set and served two double faults as he lost the tie-break 7-4.

The 29-year-old broke early in the second and seemed to be cruising, but Kohlschreiber, who was scoring consistently with his forehand, had other ideas and broke back as the Scot served for the set.

It was the German who faltered first in the tie-break and Murray had four set points before Kohlschreiber went ahead at 9-8.

A stubborn Murray played some inspired tennis to stay in the match, including a stunning cross-court drop shot to save the first match point, while the German sent numerous groundstrokes wide on further chances to secure the match.

In the end Murray was able to capitalise on Kohlschreiber’s wastefulness to level.

Kohlschreiber capitulated in the final set as Murray broke twice to race to victory in a set that lasted a minute less than the second set tie-break.

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Heather Watson: British number two loses to Kristina Mladenovic in Mexico

Heather Watson

Britain’s Heather Watson lost 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 to France’s Kristina Mladenovic in a three-and-a-half hour battle at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel.

The 24-year-old finally succumbed to Mladenovic, ranked 43 places higher in the world rankings at 30th, with her 18th double fault of the match.

A see-sawing match featured 15 breaks of serve, with Watson converting seven of her 14 chances.

Second seed Mladenovic will play Kirsten Flipkens in the third round.

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Dubai Championships: Andy Murray beats Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in round two

Andy Murray

Britain’s Andy Murray beat Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-2 6-0 in round two of the Dubai Championships.

The world number one, 29, is playing his first tournament since his fourth-round defeat at the Australian Open in January.

Murray, who won in one hour and 12 minutes, will face Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber in the last eight.

Earlier, British number two Dan Evans was beaten 6-4 3-6 6-1 by fourth seed Gael Monfils of France.

The 26-year-old, at a career-high ranking of 43, lost the opening set but levelled as Monfils held serve only once in the second set.

But Monfils raced through the decider to complete victory in one hour and 35 minutes.

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Andy Murray says players banned for doping should not get wildcards

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Wildcards should not be given to players returning from doping bans, says world number one Andy Murray.

Russia’s Maria Sharapova has been given wildcards for tournaments in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome after her 15-month suspension ends next month.

“I think you should really have to work your way back,” Murray told the Times.