Fritz downs Murray on way to Washington semis, Evans topples Tiafoe

US top seed Taylor Fritz defeated Britain's Andy Murray to reach the quarter-finals of the ATP Washington Open (Rob Carr)

US top seed Taylor Fritz defeated Britain’s Andy Murray to reach the quarter-finals of the ATP Washington Open (Rob Carr)

Top-seeded Taylor Fritz battled past three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray 6-7 (2/7), 6-3, 6-4 then returned to breeze past Jordan Thompson and reach the semi-finals of the rain-hit Washington Open on Friday.

Fritz was not the only player pulling double duty at the combined ATP and WTA hardcourt tennis tournament, after rain brought play to a premature end on Thursday.

Britain’s Daniel Evans defeated Alexander Shevchenko 6-4, 6-3 then came back to upset second-seeded hometown hero Frances Tiafoe 6-4, 7-5.

Tiafoe had made short work of his third-round opponent, dispatching Chinese teenager Shang Juncheng 6-2, 6-3.

But ninth-seeded Evans gained an early break in each set and turned back the American’s bid to rally in the second, breaking Tiafoe for a 6-5 lead and saving a break point as he served out the match in the next game.

Evans next faces Bulgarian fifth-seed Grigor Dimitrov, who got some unexpected rest when France’s Ugo Humbert withdrew from their quarter-final with a leg injury.

Fritz next faces Tallon Griekspoor, who finished off a rain-disrupted three-set victory over France’s Gael Monfils before beating American J.J. Wolf 7-5, 6-4 in the quarter-finals.

Fritz, ranked ninth in the world, looked anything but fatigued as he raced past Thompson 6-3, 6-3 in one hour and 17 minutes.

Thompson had earlier beaten Wimbledon quarter-finalist Christopher Eubanks 6-2, 6-2, while Fritz had needed three hours to subdue the 44th-ranked Murray.

Murray, showing his formidable range of skills at age 36, won his first break chance of the match with a forehand cross-court drop volley winner on the line, breaking Fritz and pulling level at 5-5 on the way to a first set tie-break.

Murray smashed a forehand winner for a 3-1 lead, took a quick break to replace a shattered shoe, then took two points off Fritz’s serve as he pocketed the set.

Fritz battled back to take the second and they fought to 4-4 in the third before Murray swatted a backhand wide to surrender a break.

Down 0-40 in the 10th game, Fritz saved three break points. Murray denied him on two match points before Fritz blasted a forehand winner on his third chance.

– ‘Insanely high level’ –

“I think that the match with Andy earlier was insanely high level,” Fritz said. “I thought he played really well. I thought he served really well.

“It was a war,” he added. “With how these balls are, they’re so slow, dead, it’s really tough to finish points. You’re going to inevitably have these really long, physical rallies.

“I did a great job to win that. And then I did a really good job to come back and play how I played in that last match.

“I feel like my body probably couldn’t have handled another battle like I had with Andy,” Fritz added.

In women’s action, top seed Jessica Pegula rallied past Wimbledon semi-finalist Elina Svitolina 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to book a semi-final showdown with Greek fourth seed Maria Sakkari.

Sakkari had to win twice on Friday, beating Canadian Leylah Fernandez 7-5, 6-2 before dispatching seventh-seeded American Madison Keys 6-3, 6-3 in the quarter-finals.

Third-seeded American Coco Gauff cruised past sixth-seeded Swiss Belinda Bencic 6-1, 6-2 to line up a semi-final against defending champion Liudmila Samsonova, a 6-4, 6-2 winner over Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk.

Gauff, in contrast, was never troubled by reigning Olympic champion Bencic, converting six of her nine break chances.

“I put a lot of hours in after Wimbledon and I was eager to bounce back,” said Gauff, who crashed out in the first round at the All England Club.

“The serve has improved, the return has improved and I think I’m dictating a lot of points, which against Belinda is not an easy thing to do.”


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