Andy Murray’s China Open run ends in quarterfinals

A third match in four days in Beijing proved a step too far for Murray as he lost 6-2, 7-6 to top seed Dominic Thiem, who will face Karen Khachanov next.

Andy Murray attempts to return Dominic Thiem during their quarterfinal clash at China Open on Friday.   -  AP

Andy Murray went down fighting in the China Open quarterfinals on Friday as the former World No. 1 lost 6-2, 7-6 (7/3) to top seed Dominic Thiem.

The 32-year-old Briton, battling to get back to a semblance of his best following career-saving hip surgery in January, was defeated in just under two hours after threatening an unlikely, late comeback.

A third match in four days in the Chinese capital proved a step too far for Murray, who looked exhausted after a three-set victory on Wednesday against Cameron Norrie.

Murray, a three-time Grand Slam winner, had the Beijing crowd firmly behind him against the Austrian Thiem, ranked fifth in the world to his opponent’s 503rd.

But Murray lost his first service game to go behind from the outset, putting himself under pressure immediately.

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At times there were shades of the Murray that topped the world rankings in 2016, but the second set started in the same way as the first, the Briton having his serve broken.

Murray, who says that he now has no pain in his hip, looked down and out as Thiem served for the match.

But he broke Thiem to make it 5-5 in the second set, then went up 6-5, before Thiem forced the tie break. He carried that momentum to victory.

The 26-year-old Thiem plays Karen Khachanov in the last four after the Russian fourth seed defeated Fabio Fognini of Italy in three sets.

The other semi will be contested between Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas after they overcame American duo Sam Querrey and John Isner, respectively.

Second seed Zverev hammered Felix Auger-Aliassime on Thursday and, although Querrey put up a bit more of a fight, the German still progressed in straight sets, winning 7-6 (7-3) 6-2.

Tsitsipas was similarly commanding against the big-serving Isner, who had won the previous two contests including at Wimbledon 2018.

Neither broke serve in the first set, forcing a tie-break in which Tsitsipas prevailed, but the 21-year-old took charge in the second and ran out 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 victor.