Andy Murray was knocked out of the Dubai Championships yesterday, losing to impressive 18-year-old Borna Coric 6-1, 6-3 in the quarter-finals.
Murray, who reached the Australian Open final at the beginning of the month, had 55 unforced errors and only 15 winners against the Croatian teenager.
“I would definitely say I was a little bit sluggish at the beginning of the match, but in the second set I definitely started to move a bit better and play a little bit better,” Murray said. “But, yeah, I started the match not good.”
Coric, who never offered Murray a break-point opportunity, reached his second career ATP level semi-final and will next face Roger Federer. Coric’s first semi-final appearance came last year in Basel, Switzerland, after beating Rafael Nadal.
“He didn’t make many errors,” added Murray, who won his only other match against Coric in 2013 in the Davis Cup. “He played very solid and he moved well. I made way too many mistakes from the beginning of the match right through to the end.”
The 84th-ranked Coric briefly wobbled when he was at 2-1 up in the second set.
“I lost my focus I think somewhere in the second set on 2-1,” Coric said. “Actually, I started to realise that I can win this match, so I started a little bit (to) overthink. But after two games I think I got back at my focus.”
Coric entered the main draw as a lucky loser after Philipp Kohlschreiber withdrew. And on Wednesday, he was tied at 4-4 in a third set tiebreaker when Marcos Baghdatis retired from the match with cramps. “I know I got a little bit lucky with coming in the main draw,” Coric said. “And also yesterday, I think I was actually very lucky because I was 4-1 down, double break, and also 5-3. But that’s tennis and that’s life and another day.”
Federer, the defending champion in Dubai, advanced when Richard Gasquet retired from their quarter-final match. Federer was leading 6-1 with the Frenchman called it quits.
Fourth-seeded Tomas Berdych also advanced by beating Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3, 4-6, 6-2. He will next face Novak Djokovic who was a comfortable winner against Marsel Ilhan.
Nadal is in Buenos Aires this week and needed just 64 minutes to book his spot in the Argentina Open quarter-finals.
The top seed, playing his first match after losing his first semi-final on clay for 12 years at the Rio Open last week, was given a bye into the second round, where he was rarely stretched in a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Argentine qualifier Facundo Arguello. Nadal was broken in the opening set but the Spaniard converted five of his own eight break point opportunities and was due to face another Argentine in the last eight after Federico Delbonis saw off Paolo Lorenzi of Italy 6-4, 6-2.
Third seed Pablo Cuevas reached his third consecutive quarter-final on the ATP Tour after a 7-6 (7-4), 6-1 win over home hope Guido Andreozzi.
The Uruguayan world No 24 won the Brasil Open two weeks ago and was knocked out of the Rio Open in the quarter-finals by Nadal in his last tournament.
He will face former world No 10 Juan Monaco, who upset fifth seed and Argentinian compatriot Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 6-4.
On the WTA Tour meanwhile, Venus Williams beat Agnieszka Radwanska for the second time this year to line up two-time champion Victoria Azarenka in the semi-finals of the Qatar Open.
The in-form Williams, who beat Radwanska to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals last month, won 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, the third time in four days she’s gone the distance.
Azarenka, the 2012 and 2013 champion who received a wild-card entry, beat third-seeded Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-1.