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Andy Murray relieved after special ATP win

Associated Press logo Associated Press 2/03/2017 SANDRA HARWITT

Andy Murray saved seven match points before beating Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-7 (6-4) 7-6 (20-18) 6-1 to reach the Dubai Tennis Championships semi-finals on Thursday.

The second-set tiebreaker - 31 minutes, 6 seconds long - produced all the high-intensity drama tennis can offer, featuring the seven match points for Kohlschreiber before Murray prevailed on an eighth set point.

"I have never played a tiebreak that long ever," Murray said. "I'll probably never play another one like that again.

"I mean, I have been playing on the tour for 11, 12 years now, and nothing's been close to that."

The power, angles, and crafty shot-making were so all-consuming in that tiebreaker that the players, as well as umpire Renaud Lichtenstein, neglected to realise there was meant to be a change of ends at 15-15, which took place at 16-16 instead.

"There was definitely some unbelievable points in that second-set tiebreak," Murray said. "We both missed a couple of shots, but in general, I think the level was extremely high.

"It's a special match to win because of how it went."

The ATP said the 20-18 tiebreaker was the sixth on tour since 1991. There have been no others with more points.

Despite the loss, Kohlschreiber was all smiles after the 2-hour, 55-minute quarter-final.

"Losing is always disappointing, but I'm not sad," he said. "I played great tennis, one of my best matches. We both played almost the best tennis we can play."

Kohlschreiber couldn't keep the momentum going against Murray in the third set, which ended up being one-minute shorter than the second-set tiebreaker.

Murray is playing his first tournament since losing in the Australian Open fourth round and overcoming a bout with shingles. He leads Kohlschreiber 5-1 in career meetings.

Murray will play Lucas Pouille of France in the semi-finals.

Pouille needed three match points to defeat Russian qualifier Evgeny Donskoy 6-4 5-7 7-6 (7-2). The first two match points came on Donskoy's serve in the 10th game of the third set.

Earlier, former top-10 star Fernando Verdasco upset fourth-seeded Gael Monfils 6-3 7-5 in the quarter-finals.

Verdasco lost all three of his previous matches against Monfils, although it's been 3 1/2 years since their last encounter.

Verdasco next plays Robin Haase, who defeated Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia and Herzegovina 6-2 4-6 6-4.

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