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Murray is forced to dig deep to edge into semi-finals

 

Tough examination: Andy Murray
Tough examination: Andy Murray

By Eleanor Crooks

Andy Murray battled through to his first semi-final in almost two and a half years at the European Open in Antwerp.

The 32-year-old Scot was forced to dig deep against Romanian qualifier Marius Copil, eventually wrapping up a 6-3 6-7 (7) 6-4 victory in two hours and 36 minutes.

The metal hip passed another stern examination, Copil throwing in plenty of drop shots to test Murray's range of movement in another encouraging step on the road back towards challenging at the highest level.

Three breaks of the booming Copil serve - with one drop of his own - saw Murray wrap up the first set in 44 minutes.

But the dogged Copil, already a break down and seemingly heading for the exit facing further break points, fended them off and hauled himself level at 5-5 before snatching the tie-break, Murray unable to convert his one match point.

The momentum seemed to be with Copil but he blinked first in the decider, two unforced errors and a first double-fault handing Murray two break points.

The two-time Wimbledon champion converted the second and served out, securing victory with an ace to reach his first semi-final since the French Open in 2017.

Murray said: "I haven't played a lot of matches in the last few years so when you get to the end of the match it's always difficult to serve it out.

"I played a bad game at 5-3 in the second set and after that he gained a lot of confidence.

"He served extremely well, he was being a lot more aggressive in both the second and third sets.

"Thankfully I managed to get the break at the end, but it was a tough one to get through.

"I feel okay right now, but it's more about how you feel the following day.

"The good thing about the indoor matches is that the points are fairly short, so it doesn't take as much out of you."

• Johanna Konta has brought her season to a premature end because of a troublesome knee injury.

The British No.1 has not played since losing to Elina Svitolina in the US Open quarter-finals in early September.

Her latest withdrawal is from the Elite Trophy in Zhuhai next week, a second-tier end-of-season event for those top-20 players who missed out on a spot at the WTA Finals.

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