Andy Murray’s struggled continued Thursday in Dubai where the recent Australian Open finalist was crushed by 18-year-old Borna Coric 6-1, 6-3.
“He didn’t make many errors,” said Murray who made 55 unforced errors himself and won just 14% of serve return points. “He played very solid and he moved well. I made way too many mistakes from the beginning of the match right through to the end, early in rallies, rushing points.”
Coric picks up his second career win over a Big Four player after beating Rafael Nadal as a 17-year-old in Basel last October.
“[It’s] one of the biggest wins, for sure,” said Coric whose game resembles Novak Djokovic’s. “I was just trying to maintain my level, stay in the rallies as long as I can, which I was doing really well. I was also running very well.
“I’m still a little bit struggling with the best players when they are playing really good obviously. I always need to be on 100 per cent, and when I’m on 100 per cent, mentally [and] also tennis wise, then I think I can play with them.”
In his second career ATP semifinal, Coric will meet Roger Federer after the defending champion advanced when Richard Gasquet withdrew with back pain down 6-1.
“I know enough about the back, and I know how horrible it is to play with that and how much worse it can sometimes become,” said Federer. “It’s maybe better not to take any chances at this point.”
Federer, who has six titles in his second home of Dubai, is intrigued by Coric.
“He seems to really play up when it matters against the better players,” Federer said of his next opponent. “Today I think it was a great victory. I didn’t see any of the match, so I can’t tell about Murray’s level. But regardless of the level, to beat Murray 6-1, 6-3, it was, it’s a great score. Because historically Murray has played very well here in Dubai. It’s definitely a message I get.”
In the second semi, 4-time champion Djokovic meets Tomas Berdych. Berdych, who just won just 500th career match yesterday, knocked out Sergiy Stakohovky in three. Djokovic destroyed Marcel Ilhan 6-1, 6-1.
Djokovic has beaten Berdych 17 of 19 times.
“I try to move him around,” Djokovic said. “He’s a big guy and has a powerful game. Even though he moves better this year, he’s still heavy, he’s still big. That’s where I try to use my opportunities from the back of the court and mix up the pace and not give him the same rhythm, because that’s what he likes.”
Djokovic has won his last 10 matches. He is bidding for his 50th career title this week.
At the WTA event in Doha, 34-year-old Venus Williams continued to show who is in charge after beating Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 1-6, 6-3. Venus, who has won six of her last seven against Top 10 players, moves on to face Victoria Azarenka in the semis. In a battle of former No. 1s, Azarenka beat Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-1.
Azarenka, though, has never won a set in four previous meetings against Williams.
“Hopefully I’m still far from my best because I never want to feel like I can’t improve further,” Azarenka said. “I think that with every match, there’s always an opportunity to get better, and that’s what I’m looking forward to just try to keep improving, try to keep developing my game. I don’t really rate my best or not my best. I just try to be better than my opponent on that particular day.”
In the other semifinal, Carla Suárez Navarro will take on Lucie Safarova. For the second successive tournament, Suárez Navarro got the better of Petra Kvitova, following up her triumph in Dubai with a 3-6, 6-0, 6-3 win. Safarova, meanwhile, outclassed Andrea Petkovic, 6-2, 6-1, to reach just her second Premier semifinal since 2012.
In Acapulco, Kei Nishikori and Maria Sharapova were scheduled for later today.
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