ANDY Murray booked his place in the semi-finals of the Miami Open for the fifth time last night after battling back from losing the first set to beat Austria’s Dominic Thiem.
The two-time Miami champion made a slow start to the last eight encounter but stepped up his game in the second set and then produced a masterclass in the third to overpower the world No 34 for a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 win – the 501st victory of his career.
The Scot appeared to be suffering some discomfort in his shoulder in the first set but overcame that and grew stronger as the game wore on, with Thiem ultimately having no answer to the world No 4.
Asked what had made the difference after losing the first set, Murray said: “I started to return better, especially in the third set I returned better.
“At the start of the match, I struggled on the returns and even when I was getting them in play, they were short and he was able to dictate the points.
“I actually thought I played decently in the first set but I played a bad game on serve to get broken but apart from that played quite well.
“I got a few more returns in the second set and, in the third set, I was a lot more confident on return and that made a big difference.
“I was able to push him back from the baseline and that made a big difference.”
In the women’s competition, seven-time champion Serena Williams overcame her annoyance and shaky play for her 700th career victory, beating Sabine Lisicki 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-3 to reach the semi-finals.
Williams won despite an unreliable serve, a poor second set and 51 unforced errors. She looked flatfooted and listless at times, and seemed especially vexed when playing on the side looking into the sun.
“It’s always tough on that side,” she said. “You just don’t see. You just have to adjust.”
She did, earning her 16th consecutive victory at Key Biscayne, where she’s the two-time defending champion.
“I know today wasn’t my best day,” she said. “I just told myself, I’m not serving the way I normally serve and hitting the way I normally would hit, so at this point all I can do is just fight and try to give 200 per cent instead of 100 per cent.”
She improved her career record to 700-120 and was presented with a cake on the court. Murray received a similar honour following his 500th victory Tuesday
The No 1-seeded Williams withdrew before the Indian Wells semi-final earlier this month with a right knee injury, but she has won 19 consecutive matches this year. Her opponent today will be the winner of the match between unseeded American Sloane Stephens and No 3 seed Simona Halep which was scheduled for late last night.
For much of her quarter-final, Williams cut a frustrated figure. After losing three consecutive games to fall behind 4-3 in the first set, the Floridian pounded the court with her racket.
Williams won the first set only because Lisicki wobbled in the tie-breaker, hitting three shots into the net before double-faulting on the final point. Williams played even worse in the second set, losing six games in a row, but then began to grunt louder and hit harder, with positive results. She earned the only break of the final set in the second game and held from there, serving out the match at love.
Venus Williams failed to join her sister in the semi-finals as she went down 0-6, 6-1, 7-5 to Carla Suarez Navarro who will now meet Germany’s Andrea Petkovic.
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