Incredible Andy Murray saves five match points to reach Doha final

Andy Murray reached his first final since June with a rollercoaster 6-0 3-6 7-6(6) victory over Jiri Lehecka at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open. The world No 70 saved five match points in the final set to earn his fourth-consecutive three-set victory in two hours and 29 minutes. He will now face either Daniil Medvedev or Felix Auger-Aliassime in the quest for his first title since 2019.

Murray was playing his first semi-final in eight months against a first-time opponent in Lehecka. The two-time former champion in Doha had to come back from a set down in all three matches he played so far this week, including a three-hour epic against Alexander Zverev in the second round.

But it was a different story for the world No 70 this time around as he broke the 17-year-old in the very first game. Murray had also taken a 2-0 lead in his opening set against French qualifier Alexandre Muller on Thursday but was broken straight back though he was able to avoid the same this time around and continued to impose himself on Lehecka, saving three break points in the second game.

Murray then broke the world No 52 twice more to race to a 6-0 lead, winning his first opening set of the week in just over half an hour. The Czech star was finally able to break the 35-year-old’s run of games and got himself on the board to start the second set, holding to love.

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And momentum was suddenly with the 21-year-old as he managed to break Murray for the first time, taking a 2-0 lead. The Brit had a chance to get back on serve at 2-4 but was unable to capitalise on two break points and Lehecka continued to hold, taking the second set 6-3 in 42 minutes to force a decider.

It was the Czech star who was the first to pounce in the decider, taking an early break lead at 2-1 as Murray sat at his bench and aired his frustration, shouting at himself. He was able to claw it back in the next game but was quickly broken to love again as Lehecka sat down with a 3-2 lead at the next changeover.

Momentum was well and truly with the 21-year-old who had seriously raised his level as he continued to hold to find himself a game away from his first career final at 5-3 where he managed to set up two first match points on the Murray serve. The Brit was able to fend him off and save both, putting the pressure on Lehecka to close out the match. And it seemed to get to the world No 52, who lost five successive points from 40-0 up on his serve to get broken and allow Murray to draw level at 5-5.

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It was suddenly Murray who couldn’t miss a ball as the tables turned with the 35-year-old taking a 6-5 lead in the final set but Lehecka managed to end the world No 70’s streak of games and forced a tiebreak to decide the match. The 46-time title winner took an early mini-break lead but gave it back with a double fault.

Lehecka then gave away another mini-break at a costly moment as Murray went 6-5 up in the breaker and held match point for the first time but a winner from the Czech kept him alive for 6-6. An ace from Murray gave him a second match point and for the second time this week he won after saving match points 6-0 3-6 7-6(6), advancing to his first final in eight months.

Murray will now face a top 10 player in either Daniil Medvedev or Felix Auger-Aliassime in tomorrow’s final with both men set to do battle in Friday’s second semi-final. Both are playing in Doha for the first time ever, with Medvedev coming off a run to the Rotterdam title from last week.

The Brit trails 0-2 in his head-to-head with both players, facing the former world No 1 at last year’s Miami Open and the 2019 Brisbane Open and losing in straight sets on both occasions. He came up against the 22-year-old at the 2020 US Open and lost in straight sets before Auger-Aliassime dispatched him in Rotterdam last year en route to what was a first career title for the Canadian.

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