25 February 2023

Andy Murray saves five match points to beat Jiri Lehecka and reach Qatar final

25 February 2023

Andy Murray saved five match points in yet another marathon encounter to somehow reach the final of the Qatar Open.

The two-time Wimbledon champion went the distance again – all six of his wins this year have gone to deciding sets – in an astonishing 6-0 3-6 7-6 (6) victory over rising Czech star Jiri Lehecka.

Serving at 5-3 down in the decider, Murray had to save two match points before Lehecka moved 40-0 up on his own serve in the next game.

What happened next was scarcely believable, even by Murray’s standards, as he repelled all three match points to level the set at 5-5, before beating a shellshocked Lehecka in the tie-break.

“I don’t know, that was one of the most amazing turnarounds I’ve had in my career,” the 35-year-old Scot said on Amazon Prime.

“I knew it was his first time serving for a final so I had to keep the pressure on because I know how difficult it can be to serve matches like that out, but I have no idea how I managed to turn that one around.”

Murray, twice a winner in Doha, has now reached the final a record five times.

“This tournament has had many great players; (Roger) Federer, (Andy) Roddick, (Rafael) Nadal and Novak (Djokovic),” he added. “Those guys have obviously achieved a lot more than me so this is maybe one small win I can have over them.”

Murray has played 12 sets this week, on the back of his two brutal five-setters at the Australian Open,  and spent another two and a half hours on the court getting past 21-year-old Lehecka.

My physio has a job on his hands tonight

“I feel all right just now although obviously the adrenaline is pumping after a match like that,” he said.

“I’m sure there’ll be a bit of fatigue tomorrow but I have a great team behind me. My physio has a job on his hands tonight.”

In his first final since last June, Murray will face world number eight Daniil Medvedev, who beat Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4 7-6 (7).

If he wins it will mean a first title since victory in Antwerp in October 2019, and a second since undergoing career-saving hip surgery.

Elsewhere, British number one Cameron Norrie reached the last four of the Rio Open.

The 27-year-old dropped the first set against Bolivian Hugo Dellien but hit back to win 4-6 6-1 6-4.

Norrie told the ATP Tour’s website: “I didn’t start too well, was missing a lot of returns and not making points physical like I wanted to.

“I needed to be patient with myself. I’m not sure what happened but I didn’t make a lot of returns and missed a couple of first balls on my serve, which is uncharacteristic. I just hung in there and stepped it up when I needed to.”

Norrie will meet Spain’s Bernabe Zapata Miralles in Saturday’s semi-final.

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