Vienna - Andy Murray and David Ferrer tightened the duel for spots in the ATP
year-end final with a pair of wins into the semi-finals of the Austrian
Open on Friday.
Murray, seeded second and the heavy crowd
favourite in his debut at Vienna's Stadthalle, played it safe against
German Jan-Lennard Struff in a 6-2, 7-5 win.
Spain's top seed
Ferrer limited the damage from the lethal serve of Ivo Karlovic as he
defeated the sixth-seeded Croatian 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, holding Karlovic to
Ferrer won the first set in 44 minutes from two unforced
Karlovic errors and secured a break in the second set for what proved to
be a winning margin. He has now won three of four matches in the
Ferrer stands provisional ninth in the race for one of
three remaining places at the World Tour Finals, one spot ahead of
Murray will Saturday face Viktor Troicki, who took a big
step in his return from tennis exile as he beat Thomaz Bellucci 7-6
(7/4), 6-7 (2/7), 6-2 to reach his first semi-final since 2011.
Ferrer will take on fourth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber, a winner over Benjamin Becker 6-4, 7-6 (7/3).
Murray's only wobble against the 52nd-ranked Struff came as the Scot trailed 3-1 in the second set, but
Murray quickly put that right and returned to 3-all.
The former Wimbledon champion ran out the winner after less than 90 minutes with a love game.
expected a tough match from him, even if I didn't know a lot about his
game," said Murray, provisional tenth in the race to London which will
be decided this weekend and over the remaining two weeks of the ATP
"He was hitting big. I had to play well to win and fight
to get through. My game was more consistent than in the previous round, I
was able to change up the rhythm
"He was playing high-risk tennis
but he made a couple of mistakes which helped me. I still was not able
to hit a lot of winners."
Number 127 Troicki has crawled back up
the rankings after returning in July from a one-year ban for delaying a
post-match blood test in 2013.
The 28-year-old made his return with just 20 ranking points remaining thanks to a wild card from Gstaad organisers.
He reached the quarter-finals in Switzerland and did the same last month in Shenzhen, China.
Beijing wild card produced a first-round win, with Troicki capitalising
on success from qualifying to carve his way through the Vienna event
upon his debut.
The Serb last played a semi-final at Moscow, 2011.
"It's great to win," said the player who was stoutly defended during his ban by world number one and good friend Novak Djokovic.
"I've not played a semi-final in a long time.
comeback has been tough but I always knew it would be like this: you
have to come from the bottom if you want to arrive at the top."
said that while he tries to bury bitter memories of the sanction he
received after being informed - erroneously as it turned out - that he
could postpone a blood test by 24 hours due to feeling poorly in April,
2013, in Monte Carlo, the episode remains distasteful to him.
you didn't do anything wrong and you are being punished is the worst
feeling," he said. "One year is a long time in any sport.
told me at the tribunal hearing that if I had just taken something
illegal in my body I would have gotten a lesser sentence. As it turned
out, 12 months was the minimum punishment for missing a test.
"And the International Tennis Federation lawyers were trying to get me banned for two years.
it's over now. Inside myself I know I was clean and not trying to do
anything wrong. I had good lawyers but you feel like you don't have any
chances (in the hearing)."Results on the fifth day of the ATP Austrian Open on Friday (x denotes seeded player):
Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER x4) bt Benjamin Becker (GER) 6-4, 7-6 (7/3)
Viktor Troicki (SRB) bt Thomaz Belluci (BRA) 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (2/7), 6-2
Andy Murray (GBR x2) bt Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-2, 7-5
David Ferrer (ESP x1) bt Ivo Karlovic (CRO x6) 7-6 (7/5), 6-4