World No. 1 Andy Murray looked set to follow Roger Federer to an early exit from the Dubai Tennis Championships on Wednesday.
Murray dropped the first set of his quarterfinal match against 29th-ranked Philipp Kohlschreiber in a tiebreak, got pushed to another breaker in the second set, and had his early mini-break erased before Kohlschreiber set up a match point.
But serving to stay alive at 8-9, Murray absorbed a stinging backhand return, slowly got himself ahead in the point, and then conjured a bit of diabolical genius, stunning Kohlschreiber with a ballsy, beautifully disguised, savagely angled forehand drop shot.
Not that that got Murray out of the woods. That was one of just seven match points he had to save in the seesawing second-set breaker, which he finally won, 20-18, on his eighth set point.
Kohlschreiber understandably ran out of gas pretty quickly after that, and Murray would go on to close out the match with a 6-1 third set. Upon reflection, he felt he probably got away with one when he decided to bust out the dropper.
“That was probably the worst decision I made in the whole match,” Murray said. “Look, it paid off, but if I was coaching someone, I certainly wouldn’t tell them to try a shot like that. Maybe when the ball’s a bit higher, it’s easier, but it was off a slice, and I was running around the ball. It was literally the most extreme angle possible. There’s a lot of luck involved in that shot.”
A lot of luck, and maybe a dash of skill, has Murray into the semis in Dubai.