Murray Fights Through Simon In Vienna
Troicki upsets Thiem on Thursday
Top seed Andy Murray continued his quest for World No. 1 on Thursday at the Erste Bank Open 500 in Vienna, weathering a marathon match against Gilles Simon to move into the quarter-finals, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.
“It was a very long match, but I expected it to be very hard because it’s just that way against Gilles. You play a lot of long points. You feel like the harder you hit the ball, the harder it comes back,” said Murray. “You just have to try to use some variety, some slice and drop shots, and find that balance to get him out of his rhythm.”
Murray started out slowly by dropping his first two service games and trailing 5-2. Although he managed to break Simon and bring the opening set back on serve, the Frenchman broke him again at 5-4 to grab the lead.
Although the second and third sets appeared to be routine on paper for Murray, he was forced to win extended rallies in most points and endured three long deuce games in each set. At 2-2 in the final set, the Brit finally wore his opponent down and cruised through the last four games to prevail in two hours and 41 minutes.
Next up for Murray is big-serving John Isner. The Brit has dominated their FedEx ATP Head2Head 6-0, although two of those matches have gone to a deciding set.
Viktor Troicki caused the first upset of the day with his second-round win over third seed Dominic Thiem, 6-2, 7-5. With Thiem's loss, Gael Monfils has now officially qualified for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
Troicki didn’t drop serve once and displayed outstanding resilience in the second set by saving all seven break points against him. He only needed a single break point opportunity at 5-5 in the second set and comfortably closed out the match on his serve in the next game.
Troicki has enjoyed success in Vienna by coming through qualifying to reach the semi-finals in 2014. The Serbian improved his FedEx ATP Head2Head over Thiem to 2-0 and recorded his second Top 10 victory this month, having ousted Rafael Nadal two weeks ago at the Shanghai Rolex Masters.
Awaiting him in the quarter-finals is fifth seed David Ferrer, a 6-2, 7-6(4) winner over Joao Sousa. Ferrer leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head with Troicki 3-1, but they haven’t faced each other in more than two years.
Former champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga recovered from a 2-4 deficit in the first set to beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6(6), 6-2 in 89 minutes for a place in the quarter-finals. Tsonga, the 2011 titlist, now has a 10-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Kohlschreiber. He will next meet Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who fought back from a set and 0-2 deficit to knock out 2009 and 2010 champion Jurgen Melzer 3-6, 6-4, 6-0.
DAY 5 PREVIEW: An outstanding quarter-final line-up on Friday at the Erste Bank Open 500 features top seed and World No. 2 Andy Murray, reigning champion/No. 5 David Ferrer, No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and No. 8 Ivo Karlovic, who leads the ATP World Tour this season in aces.
In the opening match on Centre Court, Karlovic takes on #NextGen Russian star Karen Khachanov for the second time. The big-serving Croat, who is appearing in his eighth ATP World Tour quarter-final of the season, won the previous meeting 64 60 in the quarter-finals of Moscow in 2013. Khachanov was 17 years old at the time and ranked No. 808 (making his ATP World Tour QF debut) while Karlovic was No. 86. Karlovic, a two-time title winner this season, leads the ATP World Tour with 1,052 aces, just ahead of Isner (1,046). Earlier this month Khachanov captured his maiden ATP World Tour title in Chengdu (d. Ramos-Vinolas). He is making his third ATP World Tour quarter-final showing of the year.
In the next match on, Tsonga brings in a 4-0 head-to-head record against Albert Ramos-Vinolas. This is their first indoor meeting. Tsonga, who won the Vienna title five years ago, is appearing in his eighth quarter-final of the season. The 31-year-old Frenchman is 2-5 in QF matches and he’s trying to reach his first final of the season. The 28-year-old Spaniard is putting together his best season on the ATP World Tour with a 33-29 match record (most wins) and personal-best No. 26 Emirates ATP Ranking this week. He captured his maiden ATP World Tour title in Bastad in July (d. Verdasco) and was runner-up in Chengdu (l. to Khachanov). He is 3-4 in QF matches.
In the last afternoon match, Serbian No. 2 Viktor Troicki takes on Ferrer, who owns a 3-1 head-to-head record. Troicki, who is making his seventh QF showing of the season, is No. 28 in the Emirates ATP Rankings and he is trying to finish in the Top 30 for the fifth time in his career. In the opening month of the season he won his third career ATP World Tour title in Sydney (d. Dimitrov). Ferrer, who is playing in his ninth QF of the season, is trying to reach his first ATP World Tour final in 2016 and keep alive a streak of 11 straight years with a final appearance.
In the evening session, Murray takes a 6-0 head-to-head record against No. 2 American John Isner. Murray has won 16 of the previous 19 sets and is 6-2 in tie-breaks. Murray comes in with a 12-match winning streak after sweeping Chinese titles without dropping a set (20-0) in Beijing and ATP Masters 1000 Shanghai. Murray leads the ATP World Tour with 67 match wins this season and his six titles is second-most behind Novak Djokovic (seven), who is trying to hold off the Briton and finish No. 1 for the third straight year and fifth time overall. Murray trails by 1,415 points in the Emirates ATP Rankings but Djokovic still has 2,300 points to defend while Murray has 1,075 dropping off. Isner, who is No. 2 in aces this year (1,046), is looking to break a five-match losing streak vs. Top 10 opponents. His last win came over No. 2 Federer in the 3R at ATP Masters 1000 Paris last November.
In the final match, a doubles quarter-final features No. 2 seeds Bob and Mike Bryan against Pablo Cuevas and Troicki. The Bryans already have qualified for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London. The Bryans are one win away from becoming the first team in the Open Era with 1,000 match wins (999-309).