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Djokovic and Murray through in Doha as oldies bow out

Reuters logo Reuters 5/01/2017

Ageless Czech Radek Stepanek's run at the Qatar Open was ended by defending champion Novak Djokovic on Thursday and fellow veteran Ivo Karlovic also bowed out at the quarter-final stage.

World number one Andy Murray, bidding for a third Doha title, joined Djokovic in the semi-final with a hard-earned victory over Spain's Nicolas Almagro, his 27th consecutive win.

Tennis - Qatar Open - Men's Singles - Novak Djokovic of Serbia v Horacio Zeballos of Argentina © REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon Tennis - Qatar Open - Men's Singles - Novak Djokovic of Serbia v Horacio Zeballos of Argentina Tennis - Qatar Open - Men's Singles - Andy Murray of Britain v Nicolas Almagro of Spain © REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari Tennis - Qatar Open - Men's Singles - Andy Murray of Britain v Nicolas Almagro of Spain

Stepanek, at 38 the oldest player to reach an ATP quarter-final since Jimmy Connors in 1995, was no match for a clinical Djokovic, who made light of the breezy conditions with a straightforward 6-3 6-3 victory.

Tennis - Qatar Open - Men's Singles - Novak Djokovic of Serbia v Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic

Tennis - Qatar Open - Men's Singles - Novak Djokovic of Serbia v Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic
© REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari

The 37-year-old Karlovic, the oldest top-20 player since Ken Rosewall in 1978, lost 6-2 7-5 to Spain's Fernando Verdasco.

Tennis - Qatar Open - Men's Singles - Andy Murray of Britain v Nicolas Almagro of Spain © REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari Tennis - Qatar Open - Men's Singles - Andy Murray of Britain v Nicolas Almagro of Spain

Verdasco will face Djokovic for a place in the final.

Tennis - Qatar Open - Men's Singles - Novak Djokovic of Serbia v Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic © REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari Tennis - Qatar Open - Men's Singles - Novak Djokovic of Serbia v Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic

Briton Murray beat Almagro for the fifth time in six matches but was never comfortable against the hard-hitting Spaniard before posting a 7-6(4) 7-5 victory.

Tennis - Qatar Open - Men's Singles - Novak Djokovic of Serbia v Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic © REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari Tennis - Qatar Open - Men's Singles - Novak Djokovic of Serbia v Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic Tennis - Qatar Open - Men's Singles - Andy Murray of Britain v Nicolas Almagro of Spain © REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari Tennis - Qatar Open - Men's Singles - Andy Murray of Britain v Nicolas Almagro of Spain

Almagro threw everything at the 29-year-old, striking 32 winners to his opponent's 24, but Murray's defensive skills proved decisive in the end as he wore down the world number 44.

Murray will play either Tomas Berdych or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Friday's semi-finals.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ian Chadband)

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