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Murray learns lesson as Sharapova clicks up gears


By Robert Jones

Andy Murray avoided losing to Albert Ramos-Vinolas for the second successive week with a battling performance at the Barcelona Open.

The Spaniard had caused an upset when he defeated the World No.1 in the third round in Monte Carlo last week, and he looked poised for a repeat.

But Ramos-Vinolas missed a chance to serve for the match and it was Murray who came through 2-6 6-4 7-6 (7-4) after two hours and 59 minutes.

In the semi-finals he will face fourth seed Dominic Thiem, who will be looking for a third British scalp after knocking out Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans.

Murray lost the deciding set in Monte Carlo from 4-0 up, and Ramos-Vinolas picked up where he had left off by winning five of the first six games.

Murray's first-serve percentage in the opening set was just 35 and a string of unforced errors gave his rival a hand.

There were more positive signs in the second set for Murray but still he was the one under the most pressure as Ramos-Vinolas showed why he is at a career-high ranking of 19.

The Scot faced 15-40 at 3-3 and then 0-40 at 4-4 but held his nerve to edge in front. And, with Ramos-Vinolas serving to stay in the set, Murray pounced to level.

He dropped serve again at the start of the decider but fought back once more to make it 2-2, with Ramos-Vinolas receiving treatment to his left foot.

It was the Spaniard who edged ahead again with a break at 4-4 only to play his worst game of the match serving for it.

Into a tie-break they went, and this time Murray took control early on, winning the first four points. He lost the next three but ensured this one did not slip away, clinching victory on his second match point.

Maria Sharapova needs one more win to reach French Open qualifying after beating Anett Kontaveit to make the semi-finals of the Porsche Grand Prix.

The 30-year-old is yet to drop a set in Stuttgart following her return from a 15-month doping ban and saw off Estonian qualifier Kontaveit 6-3 6-4.

The ranking points Sharapova has collected mean she is already close to rejoining the top 250 on Monday, and victory in the last four today would guarantee a spot in the top 200.

That would be enough to earn her entry into the qualifying tournament at Roland Garros without the need for a wild card.

The French Tennis Federation will announce whether the two-time French Open champion has been given a wild card into the main draw on May 16.

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