With Roger Federer already out, the Dubai tournament organizers had to be holding their breath as Philipp Kohlschreiber had Andy Murray on the ropes. The veteran German was playing his best match in years, but Murray again showed the fight that elevated him to World No. 1.
Murray saved a total of seven match points in an all-time great second set tiebreaker before prevailing in a thrilling 6-7 (4), 7-6 (18), 6-1 quarterfinal. At 20-18, that breaker appears to have tied a men’s singles record, per information via late historian Bud Collins’ book, and the first in a decade. At minimum, the ATP has confirmed that it tied the record dating as far back to 1991.
At 31 minutes, the tiebreak was so long that both players as well as the chair umpire forgot to switch sides at 15-all, with Murray later remembering and the switch taking place at 16-all.
Often when on-fire underdogs are unable to get over the finish line, it’s because they get tight, blink, and lose their form, but what made this match great was the shotmaking and execution under pressure, with Murray saving those points far more than Kohlschreiber wasted them (also, Kohlschreiber fended off seven set points himself). The most audacious of the seven saves by Murray was this brilliant dropper:
Wow. Watch Andy Murray save match-point with an outrageous drop-shot pic.twitter.com/6itsAI4n6o
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) March 2, 2017
Kohlschreiber fought well in the third set, but was unable to sustain the quality of shot that had nearly got him his first career win over a World No. 1, as Murray fought off an early break point and eventually wore down the 33 year old.
The seven match points eclipse Murray’s career-high of five match points saved, first in 2006 and then famously twice in finals against Tommy Robredo in the fall of 2014. He is now 11-5 in matches where one player failed to convert match point.