Thiem stops Murray at China Open, Khachanov next

Published by AP / Tennismash

Dominic Thiem (L) shakes hands with Andy Murray after winning their quarterfinal match at the China Open in Beijing (Getty Images)
Top seed Austria’s Dominic Thiem holds off a fast-finishing Andy Murray at the China Open to set up a semifinal with No.4 seed Karen Khachanov.

Andy Murray’s run at the China Open is over after top seed Dominic Thiem proved too strong for the Scot on Friday in Beijing.

The former world No.1 Murray, who had won consecutive singles matches for the first time since undergoing hip surgery in January, lost to Thiem 6-2 7-6(3) in the quarterfinals.

In a Friday night match, No.2 seed Alexander Zverev brushed aside Sam Querrey in straight sets and will meet third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat John Isner by the near-identical scoreline of 7-6(3) 6-3.

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Thiem broke the 32-year-old Murray in the first game of the match, but the British player made things more difficult in the second set, testing his younger opponent’s nerve in finishing out the match.

Thiem led 6-2 5-3 and served for the match, only to cough up three double faults in a disastrous game to drop serve.

Murray went on to level scores at 5-5, but in the subsequent tiebreak Thiem re-established his dominance to set up a semifinal meeting with Karen Khachanov, who earlier on Friday beat Fabio Fognini 3-6 6-3 6-1.

“I feel very good. Three matches were great, especially today. I think one of my best matches of the year,” Thiem said.

“I felt that my (best) tennis is coming back. It’s good this week. Of course, I hope that it can continue like this.”

Thiem, who had lost four of his previous six matches coming into the China Open, has now won three matches in a row without dropping a set.

Of the slight wobble that came when he first moved into sight of the finish line, Thiem said he was conscious of the reputation of his opponent at the other end of the court.

“I knew that he’s going to play very well because you don’t beat players like (Matteo) Berrettini or (Cameron) Norrie for a reason,” Thiem said of Murray’s path to the quarterfinals in Beijing.

“I expected that he’s going to play well. It’s just impressive how he’s coming back from his tough injury.

“It’s great for everybody. It’s great for us players, great for tennis in general. If he continues to play like in this week, we’ll see him pretty soon on the top again.”

Like Thiem, Murray came away from the contest encouraged by signs that he discovering better form.

“I think this was maybe the best in terms of how I played since I came back. It was great for me. I played three matches in four days, which is quite a lot. Actually I felt better than I expected today,” he said.

“I didn’t feel great this morning like when I was warming up. But actually when I started to maybe trust that I was actually feeling okay, my legs felt pretty good, which I was happy about.

“I wasn’t expecting to go from here to my highest level or winning tournaments, like, straightaway. (But) this week was another step, I think in the right direction.”

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