World number one Andy Murray saved seven match points in his 6-7(4) 7-6(18), 6-1, quarterfinal victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. The second set tiebreak was the longest tiebreak on the ATP World Tour in ten years. Murray will face the only other remaining seed in the tournament, Lucas Pouille, for a place in the final.
The first two sets couldn't have been closer, the German pushed the world number one to his limit. Kohlschreiber played a better tiebreak in the opening set but both players played at an outstanding level in the second, making for an epic contest and some incredible shots. Murray edged the brutal contest and leveled the match after a thirty-one-minute breaker. The Brit ran away with the final set as he raised his level in the important moments, coming away with the hard-fought victory for a place in the semifinals in Dubai.
Murray didn't miss a first serve as he sailed through the opening game of the match. Kohlschreiber came through an impressive hold of his own to quickly level the pair. A great drop shot from the German wasn't enough to trouble Murray as he easily chased it down and struck a forehand crosscourt, forcing the error from Kohlschreiber to take the lead on serve. Both players were striking the ball very well early on but the Brit came through another good hold to edge in front at 2-1.
A stunning backhand return winner and a signature lob from Murray on return impressed the crowd but weren't enough to give him a way through as Kohlschreiber's big hitting brought him away with another excellent hold. Murray began his next game on serve with three aces in a row as he came through to take a 3-2 lead. Errors started to creep into the Germans game, giving Murray opportunities on the first deuce of the match. A game point came and went for Kohlschreiber as Murray's aggressive backhands brought them back to deuce. The world number one fired a backhand passing shot on the run to bring up the first break point of the match but the German's deep hitting forced Murray back and erased it. Kohlschreiber came through the tough battle on serve to level the set at 3-3.
Murray cruised through a love hold to quickly put the pressure back on the German but he dealt with it well and came away with the hold as Murray grew frustrated. A huge forehand winner followed by an error from Murray gave Kohlschreiber the lead on the return for the first time in the match. Two break points came for the German as Murray hit another error. A return long from Kohlschreiber and a forehand winner from Murray erased the danger and brought them to deuce, and Murray took the next two points to hold on and force his opponent to serve to stay in the set.
The German continued his outstanding form, coming through another great hold with no signs of pressure. Murray was in trouble again at 30-30 on serve in the next game but two great serves brought him through the tense game. Another hold for Kohlschreiber sent the pair into a tiebreak.
Murray had a nightmare start as he gifted the German a mini-break with his first double fault. An overhead winner from Kohlschreiber gave him a 2-0 lead but an error on his next service point gave Murray the mini break back. The Brit recovered and took his two points on serve with some big serves allowing him to dictate. An error from the German gave Murray his fourth point in a row and a 4-2 lead. A loose return from Murray and a stunning passing shot from the German leveled the pair. A double fault from the Brit took Kohlschreiber a mini-break in front again and the world number twenty-nine held on to his next two points on serve to secure the opening set 7-6(4).
Kohlschreiber kept his momentum going with a love hold to begin the second set and Murray followed with a solid hold of his own as he attempted to make his comeback. A huge forehand down the line winner from the Brit then took him into the lead on return. An error followed by a poorly timed drop shot attempt left the German in danger as Murray earned a look at three break points. The first break of the match was gifted with a double fault from Kohlschreiber.
Great serving from Murray seen him through another good hold to go ahead 3-1. Back to back great returns from the world number one left him with opportunities at 30-30 on return in the next game big serves brought the German through the danger and away with the hold. Another good hold followed for each player, leaving Murray ahead at 4-3. Kohlschreiber had chances on return in the following game at 15-30 and again at deuce but he was unable to make the most of them and Murray hung on to his lead.
There were no signs of pressure as Kohlschreiber served to stay in the set, racing away with a love hold to force Murray to serve to level the match. Aggressive play and huge groundstrokes from the German seen him earn two break back points, taking the first with an error from the Brit to level the pair at 5-5.
Murray had a break point in the next game to immediately reclaim the break but Kohlschreiber came through the mini-battle on serve to force the world number one to serve to stay in the match. The Brit came through unscathed to send them into another tiebreak. After half an hour of thrilling points and seven match points for Kohlschreiber, a costly forehand error from the German finally gave Murray the mini-break that he managed to hang on to and closed out the second set 7-6(18).
Murray takes charge
Both players recovered from the grueling tiebreak and came through an impressive hold each to begin the final set. Outstanding defense on return from Kohlschreiber seen him go into the lead at 15-30 as Murray let out his frustrations. A good serve from the Brit leveled them at 30-30 but the German still fought for a break point. An ace from Murray erased it and continued good serving while under pressure brought him through the crucial game.
Kohlschreiber began the next game on serve with a couple of errors, giving Murray an opening at 0-30. The Brit took advantage and got the break with another error from his opponent to lead 3-1. Murray looked to be cruising through another love hold but Kohlschreiber pushed the world number one to 40-30. The German couldn't make the most of the opportunity and Murray held on to extend his lead.
From 0-30 down in the next game, the world number one reeled off the next four points, taking a second break of the Kohlschreiber serve with a return winner and a huge forehand taking him a game away from the win. Big serves from Murray and a few errors from the German gave the Brit an easy hold and a well-fought place in the semifinals.