Sun, Aug 05, 2018 - Page 11 News List

Zverev reaches semis, fatigued Murray departs

AFP, WASHINGTON

Kei Nishikori returns to Alexander Zverev during their Citi Open quarter-final on Friday in Washington.

Photo: AP

Defending champion Alexander Zverev on Friday outlasted Japan’s Kei Nishikori 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 to reach the Citi Open semi-finals, while three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray withdrew citing fatigue.

Germany’s third-ranked Zverev dispatched seventh seed Nishikori, the 2015 champion, as he did in last year’s semi-finals.

“I felt like I had the more powerful shot,” Zverev said. “That worked out well in most of the rallies for me. It was a good high-level match.”

Zverev booked semi-final against 10th seed Greek 19-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas, who eliminated Belgian third seed David Goffin 6-3, 6-4 in just 74 minutes.

“I’m super happy I got this win in two sets and saved some energy,” Tsitsipas said. “I was serving very well. Confidence plays a very important role in my game so getting early breaks was super important.”

Australian Alex De Minaur, another 19-year-old, reached the semi-finals by walkover when Murray withdrew, citing the fatigue of three grueling three-set wins that kept him on the court more than eight hours in total.

Murray, who also withdrew from next week’s Toronto Masters event, was in only his third event back and first hard-court event since March last year at Indian Wells after an 11-month layoff with a hip injury.

“I’m exhausted after playing so much over the last four days, having not competed on the hard courts for 18 months,” Murray said. “I also need to be careful and to listen to my body as I come back from a long-term injury.”

“I’m gutted not to be playing. There are lots of positives to take from this week, so I’ll take some time to rest and recover and then head to Cincinnati early to prepare and get ready,” he added.

De Minaur is to next play either Russian 16th seed Andrey Rublev or American Denis Kudla, whose match was postponed to yesterday, along with three women’s quarter-finals, by a fifth consecutive day of rain.

If 20-year-old Rublev advances, Zverev would be the oldest semi-finalist at age 21.

His reaction: “My God, that hasn’t happened to me before.”

Zverev and Tsitsipas are both of Russian heritage. Zverev’s Russian parents moved to Germany in 1991, while Tsitsipas’ mother was a top 1980s Soviet Union player.

“The Soviet Union back then was a very technical school,” Zverev said. “It helped us out a lot to have parents to teach us the technique. We’re not all the same, but we don’t have a shot that’s so bad.”

“The discipline my mom knew from the Soviet Union side,” Tsitsipas said. “There’s something about the Russian culture that helps you mature faster than other cultures.”

In the WTA event, Germany’s Andrea Petkovic, seeking her seventh title and first since 2015, downed Swiss sixth seed Belinda Bencic 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (10/8) to reach the semi-finals.

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