(Reuters) – Top seed Dominic Thiem held off a spirited display from Britain’s Andy Murray in a 6-2 7-6(3) victory to reach the China Open semi-finals in Beijing on Friday.
Austrian Thiem was off to a flying start as he broke serve in a 14-point opening game, and did so again to move 4-2 up before closing out the first set.
Thiem failed to serve out the match at 5-4 in the second set as he hit three double faults in four points to allow Murray to draw level.
Former world number one Murray, playing his first quarter-final in over a year following a career-saving hip surgery in January, forced the second set into tiebreak but Thiem soon rediscovered his rhythm.
Thiem won five of the first six points in the tiebreak before securing a place in his seventh Tour-level semi-final of the season.
“I was a little bit unsure kind of how to go about the match at the beginning… I was feeling a little bit tired this morning,” Murray said.
“We talked about maybe, ‘If you are feeling that way, try to finish off some of the points‘… I wasn’t that happy with the way I went about the match after the first game.
“I went a bit off track there at first, in terms of how I was playing. The week overall was good.”
Should Thiem overcome Karen Khachanov in Beijing on Saturday, the 26-year-old will qualify for the season-ending ATP Tour Finals to be held in London from Nov. 10-17.
Alexander Zverev continued his steady progress this week with a 7-6(3) 6-2 win over American Sam Querrey.
From 2-2 in the second set, Zverev reeled off four consecutive games to set up a semi-final showdown with Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Third seed Tsitsipas struck 25 winners and committed just seven unforced errors in a clinical display to beat American John Isner 7-6(3) 6-3.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)