Andy Murray is into his first ATP semi-final since Stuttgart in June after beating Alexandre Muller in three sets. Murray showed his confidence in the early exchanges as he dominated from the baseline and used his serve to test Muller’s level of play under pressure. The Brit made the ideal start breaking the nervy Frenchman for a 2-0 lead as he looked to win his first straight sets match of the season.
However Muller had other plans and had been playing some of the best tennis of his career this week in Doha. The French qualifier used his power to move Murray out of position and a stunning backhand down the line winner secured the break back. That seemed to give the world number 170 even more confidence as he played without fear, taking his heavy-hitting and all-court power to Murray. Muller sealed a second consecutive break of serve with a smash winner as he took a 3-2 lead.
Murray remained unfazed and continued to test Muller’s ability under pressure using the slice and different angles to try to force the errors from the Frenchman. However when it mattered most Murray failed to be consistent and Muller saved two break points in the eighth game. The Frenchman continued his aggressive opening set as a Murray forehand into the net sealed the opening set 6-4 in 54 minutes.
The Frenchman started the second set with purpose and aggression as a bewildered Murray was wondering what was needed to turn this match around. However the Brit had more physicality about his play and outlasted the qualifier in the longer rallies as Murray took a 3-0 lead. There wasn’t much Muller could do as he ran out of energy to sustain his outrageous level that he produced in the opening set.
Murray took full advantage though as he grinded out another break of serve and secured a double break lead for 4-0. A consolation game was secured from the Frenchman but ultimately Murray raced away with the second set winning it with an unreturnable serve.
There was more consistency with Muller’s power at the start of the second set as he held to start the deciding set. However Murray’s experience paid off as a few chip returns did the damage as he secured a rapid double break lead with some deadly passing shots. A great performance from Muller was sealed by winning his second game of the final set but it was Murray’s day as he held to love to seal a place in the last four.
Andy Murray [WC] v Jiri Lehecka H2H & Match Fundamentals
Murray will need to step up his game as he is facing an opponent that has superior serving and returning statistics.
Playing styles and prediction
Lehecka is a man in form as he has continued the momentum he has picked from his Australian Open semi-final in Melbourne. The Czech Republican has a big left-handed serve and has a big forehand to back that up as he looks well on course to enter the world’s top ten this season.
Murray will look to use the slice to test Lehecka’s consistent power from the baseline and will look to be smart with his shot selection. Meanwhile Lehecka will look to remain consistent from his first serve and will look to finish points off at the net in order to avoid long baseline rallies. This will be a tough test of Murray’s stamina and consistency with the Brit needing to be smart with his return. Lehecka’s game may prove too much for the Brit but it will be fascinating to see how Murray deals with an in-form opponent.
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