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Marathon man Murray wins in three once more, saves five match points

Andy Murray needed a trio of three-set matches just to reach the semifinals of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, and he even saved three match points in the opening round against Lorenzo Sonego.

But an even more improbable Houdini act came in the semis on Friday, when Murray fought off five match points to defeat Jiri Lehecka 6-0, 3-6, 7-6(6). Lehecka had two match points with Murray serving down 3-5 in the third and the Czech led 40-0 on his own serve at 5-4, putting himself on the brink of victory and seemingly a lock to advance. Nonetheless, Murray reeled off five points in a row to break his opponent’s serve in shocking fashion and somehow stay alive.

Two holds later, a tiebreaker had to decide it. This time it was Murray’s turn to have the upper hand, only to see Lehecka dig out of a 3-0 deficit and then save one match point at 5-6. With Murray leading 7-6, however, the 21-year-old Czech pushed a forehand volley wide.

“I don’t know (how I won), Murray assured. “That was one of the most amazing turnarounds I’ve had in my career. You obviously had the three match points at 5-4, but also [two] when I was serving at 5-3.

“And then…I don’t know. I knew it was his first time serving for a final, so I knew I had to try and keep the pressure on at the end. I know how difficult it is to serve matches like that out, but I’ve no idea how I managed to turn that one round to be honest.”

The 35-year-old Scot is–against all odds–through to the Doha final for the fifth time in his illustrious career. That’s a new record at this ATP 250 tournament.

“This tournament over the years has had many great players,” Murray reflected. “[Roger] Federer played a lot, and guys like [Andy] Roddick and [Rafael] Nadal; Novak [Djokovic] has played. Those guys have obviously achieved a lot more than me, but this is one small win that I can have over them. So I’ll enjoy this evening and hopefully I can put on a good performance tomorrow.”

Next up for the three-time major champion is Daniil Medvedev, who beat Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 7-6(7) in the second semifinal.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.