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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, November 10, 2021


Andy Murray did not drop serve upsetting top-seeded Jannik Sinner 7-6(4), 6-3 to reach the Stockholm quarterfinals.

Photo credit: BNP Paribas Open Facebook

Engaged in a crackling 20-shot rally, Andy Murray showed soft touch sliding a forehand drop shot winner into the front court that froze Jannik Sinner.

Mischief-maker Murray continues to trouble Top 10 opponents with clever court sense.

More: WTA Finals by the Numbers

A sharp Murray defused Sinner 7-6(4), 6-3, to reach his second quarterfinal of the season at the Stockholm Open.

The former world No. 1 saved the only break point he faced in the first set scoring his second Top 10 victory in recent weeks. Murray, who upset 10th-ranked Hubert Hurkacz in Vienna last month, improved to 15-13 on the season denying Sinner his 10th quarterfinal of the year.

This first meeting between the talented 20-year-old Italian and the 34-year-old Briton pitted Sinner’s jolting power against Murray’s clean counterstrikes. Neither man could create separation after Murray saved a break point for a 4-3 lead in the opener.

Sinner stamped successive love holds to force the tiebreaker.

Sharper serving propelled the world No. 143 through the breaker. Murray rapped an ace to take a 3-1 lead before Sinner answered with a three-point surge of his own for 4-3. Murray hit a serve winner, whipped his eighth ace off the sideline then exploited Sinner’s first double fault for set points at 6-4.

On his first set point, Murray drew an errant running forehand snatching a tight first set with a firm “come on!” Murray served 50 percent, won 16 of 20 first-serve points and erased the lone break point of the set battling through the 75-minute opener.

The combination of Murray’s defensive resilience on the stretch and Sinner’s sheer reluctance to move forward and finish at the net cost the Italian in the second set.

Sinner saved a break point to start the second set, but badly botched a backhand volley into the bottom of the net to go down love-30 in the third game. The lanky Italian sailed a forehand wide to face triple break point then overhit another forehand crosscourt capping a sloppy game to gift the break and a 2-1 lead to the former world No. 1.

Tested in the sixth game, Murray rallied from 15-30 down singeing the sideline with a forehand and using the smash to set up a volley that helped him hold for 4-2.

Continuing to drive the ball deep in the court, Murray gave the top seed little room to operate. Sinner sprayed two more errors as Murray sealed his second Top 10 win in recent weeks in two hours, 15 minutes.

Two-time Olympic gold-medal champion Murray will take on American Tommy Paul for a semifinal spot.

Tennis Express

Earlier, Paul won 12 of 15 trips to the net beating buddy Taylor Fritz 6-4, 6-4 in 95 minutes.

The 53rd-ranked Paul avenged a 7-6(3), 6-4 loss to the American No. 1 in St. Petersburg last month to advance to his first quarterfinal since he reached the final four on the red clay of Parma last May.

Two Britons and two Americans are into the last eight in Stockholm.

Fourth-seeded Daniel Evans stopped Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-6(5), 6-2. Evans is through to his first Tour-level quarterfinal since April when he shocked world No. 1 Novak Djokovic en route to the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters semifinals on red clay.

The 26th-ranked Evans will face American Frances Tiafoe for a place in the final four.

Vienna finalist Tiafoe thumped 10 aces in a 6-4, 6-4 win over Spaniard Pedro Martinez to power into his fifth quarterfinal of the season. Tiafoe has won eight of his last night matches heading into tomorrow’s quarterfinals.

Third-seeded Denis Shapovalov struck 27 winners dispatching Italian qualifier Andrea Vavassori 7-6(1), 6-1. Shapovalov won 33 of 36 first-serve points moving into a quarterfinal clash vs. Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech.


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