Andy Murray is through to his first Tour-level semi-final since 2017 after a gutsy 6-3 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 victory over Marius Copil at the European Open in Antwerp.
The Scot, who has suggested that he could withdraw from the competition if his wife Kim goes into labour, will now face either Guido Pella or Ugo Humbert on Saturday evening in the last four.
Murray is edging closer to his first ATP Tour title in two-and-a-half years. If he does secure this title in Antwerp, the 32-year-old will have played (and won) four matches in four days which is a great sign of his post-surgery fitness.
“I feel OK just now, it’s more how you pull up the following day,” Murray said during his on-court interview after his victory over Copil.
“The good thing about the indoor matches is that the points are fairly short so it doesn’t take as much out of you as on some of the slower courts outside. I feel OK and hopefully I’ll pull up well tomorrow.”
Murray went into the quarter-final having been victorious in both of his previous encounters with Copil and was off the back of a straight-sets 6-4 6-3 win over Pablo Cuevas the evening prior.
Murray broke his opponent in the first game. He consolidated that with a strong hold and despite being broken himself, took the first set 6-3 in just 43 minutes.
The Scot went from strength to strength in the second set as he continued to torment Copil and punish the Romanian’s low first-serve percentage.
Murray gained multiple points from whipping returns of serve and displayed excellent agility and fitness around the court, showing no signs of potential weariness following short match-turnarounds.
As a result, the early break arrived and the 32-year-old looked comfortable at 5-2 up.
However, a loss of footing arose due to an increased unforced error-count from Murray and Copil finding his first serve on a more regular basis. The world No 92 reeled the set back to 5-5 and then forced a tie-break.
Murray again created a comfortable position at 4-1, and had two match points, but Copil was resilient and roared when he took it 9-7 to force a deciding set.
The decider was an arm-wrestle with neither player giving an inch. Murray created a break point in the sixth game but couldn’t convert it.
Instead, his opportunity arose in the eighth game as he punished now rare errors from Copil and secured the vital break with a drop-shot and volley combination.
Serving out the match wasn’t ever going to be easy and despite losing the opening point, he produced the goods and finished the two-hour-and-35-minute encounter with an ace.
“I haven’t played loads of matches in the last few years so when you get to the end of the match it’s always difficult to serve it out,” Murray added in his post-match interview.