Andy Murray stays on course: Juan Monaco next

Andy Murray scored his second straight-sets win to reach the semi-finals of the Shenzhen Open

andy murray
British No1 Andy Murray Photo: Marianne Bevis

Andy Murray, who took a wild card into the debut Shenzhen 250 tournament to boost his campaign to reach the ATP World Tour Finals, has scored his second straight-sets win to reach the semi-finals.

His quarter-final match against Lukas Lacko proved to be much tougher than the opening 10 minutes suggested. Murray raced to a 3-0 lead but would end up needing almost 40 minutes to seal the set, 6-3, having fended off three break points.

Lacko came on strong in the second set, too, as the enthusiastic Chinese crowd was treated to some creative shot-making by both players.

At 5-5, there was nothing in it, but the talented Lacko, often let down by his lack of consistency, hit his only double fault of the match to offer up break point and that was all the invitation that Murray needed. With the break made, Murray served out with a couple of aces to love after 80 minutes, 7-5.

Murray, who sits at 11th in the Race to London, has enjoyed great success in China in recent years, reaching the final in all three of his previous visits to the Shanghai Masters and winning the points-rich climax of the Asian swing twice. His first concern, though, is to get back into title-winning ways, for he has not reached a final since winning Wimbledon last year, hampered by back surgery and the long rehab programme that followed.

He enthused about the Chinese crowd and its support to ATPWorldTour.com: “I enjoy it when I’m over here in Asia. I’ve played some of my best tennis. The people are incredibly friendly. It’s a good place to be and the fans are extremely passionate.”

He went on: “I was a little bit frustrated at the start of the second set because I had chances to break and didn’t take them. It allowed him to get back into the match. He started playing better, was creating some chances. Hopefully, in the next few weeks, when I have chances to get myself ahead, I can do that a bit better.”

His next match promises to be a bigger test as the experienced Juan Monaco upset the form books by beating No3 seed Richard Gasquet, in a match packed with fine shot-making.

It was a fascinating contest, too, as these two men, both former top-10 players and each with 12 years on the tour, had never met before.

Gasquet let a break advantage slip in the opening set, and then saw set points evaporate to go 6-7 down. He pulled Monaco back from a 2-0 lead in the second set to break twice, but gave up his advantage again as the Argentine levelled at 4-4. Monaco went on to break again with a glorious cross-court forehand winner to steal a fine win, 6-4.

It is the latest in something of a comeback for Monaco, a third semi-final since missing Wimbledon with injury. He has slipped from No30 to a current 97 in less than a year, but that ranking belies his quality. He was playing both freely and aggressively to beat Gasquet, and will relish taking on Murray for the first time since Valencia in 2010: The Argentine won that match in three sets.

In the top half of the draw, No4 seed Tommy Robredo advanced to his third semi-final of the year by beating Andreas Seppi, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3.

He will face No6 seed Santiago Giraldo, who beat Viktor Troicki 7-6(6), 6-3, for a place in the final.

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