Murray Gets Revenge Over Ramos-Vinolas
World No. 1 Andy Murray avoided a second defeat in two weeks to a red-hot Albert Ramos-Vinolas. The 10th seed served for a spot in the final four, but Murray fought through the Spaniard and a vocal crowd on Friday at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell to advance 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(4).
“It was very similar to the match in Monte-Carlo, except in that match I was the one who had chances there, and today he had more chances to win. I feel like I was a little more aggressive at the end of the second and third sets and then played a good tie-break,” said Murray. “I’m obviously tired, but that’s why it was important for me to get matches, especially ones like today. It’s good physically to have the long ones.”
The victory was particularly meaningful to Murray, who let a 4-0 lead slip in the deciding set of their match last week in the third round of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. Murray will next play fourth seed Dominic Thiem, who had a much easier time in defeating lucky loser Yuichi Sugita 6-1, 6-2 in 52 minutes. Murray leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head against Thiem 2-0, but they have never played on clay.
“I’ve never reached the semi-finals here before, so that’s good. It’s nice to do that, but I’d like to reach the final now,” said Murray. “It’s one of the biggest clay-court events on the ATP World Tour just because of the history. A lot of great players have played here and won in the past.”
Murray struggled to find his footing early in the match, allowing Ramos-Vinolas to go on a five-game run before the Spaniard comfortably held serve to grab the opening set. The top seed was in danger as he trailed 0/40 on his serve at 4-4 in the second set, but he saved all three break points. Murray then converted on his first break point chance in the next game to send the match into a decider.
Both men began to feel the pressure of the occasion, with Ramos-Vinolas showing visible frustration at his mistakes and Murray questioning several line calls. A pair of forehand errors from Murray at 4-4 in the final set gave Ramos-Vinolas a crucial break and a chance to close out the contest, but the 10th seed shockingly hit three unforced errors to level the set at 5-5.
The battle went into a tie-break, where Murray came alive with a backhand return winner for a 2/0 mini-break advantage. A gorgeous serve-and-volley play produced a 6/3 lead for the top seed and he made good on his second match point to wrap up the match just one minute shy of three hours.
Fourth seed Thiem lost serve at the beginning of both sets against Sugita, who has had a career week with wins over Tommy Robredo, Richard Gasquet and Pablo Carreno Busta. But Thiem ended the strong run of the Japanese with victory in under an hour, hurting the right-hander with his sliced backhand.
"Today the conditions were very good for my game," said Thiem of the warm, sunny weather, compared with cool and wet conditions earlier in the week. "It's a little bit higher bounce. Yesterday was really tricky, very cold.
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“Today was my best match. I was very focused and aggressive from the beginning. I knew he was in great shape after beating three great players before me. My game plan was to take him out of his comfort zone. I sliced a lot and tried to play with high spin."
The 23-year-old Thiem is bidding to win his second ATP World Tour clay-court title of the season, following victory in Rio de Janeiro in February (d. Carreno Busta).