• Murray faces Stepanek in Shanghai quarterfinals

    10/11/12 6:08 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Murray faces Stepanek in Shanghai quarterfinals Andy Murray is three wins away from a third consecutive title in Shanghai. Standing in Murray's way of the semifinals on Friday is Radek Stepanek.

    Andy Murray and Radek Stepanek will be squaring off for the sixth time in their careers when they clash in the quarterfinals of the Shanghai Rolex Masters on Friday afternoon.

    Murray leads the head-to-head series 4-1, including 2-1 on hard courts. All four of the Scot's victories have come in straight sets while Stepanek's lone victory was a 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 decision three years ago at the Paris Masters. They most recently faced each other last season on the clay courts of Monte-Carlo, where Murray prevailed 6-1, 6-4.

    Stepanek is still going strong at 33 years old. The Czech is a modest 23-23 for his 2012 campaign, but he is playing some of his best tennis right now. Stepanek rolled over Lleyton Hewitt in his Shanghai opener before upsetting both Richard Gasquet and John Isner.

    Murray, meanwhile, has spent a shocking total of just 57 minutes on court so far this week. The two-time defending champion got a walkover from Florian Mayer following a first-round bye and he crushed Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-2, 6-2 on Thursday. Murray, the recent Olympics and U.S. Open winner, is an awesome 51-12 for the year.

    With both men in fine form, this should be a high-quality encounter featuring a variety of shot-making and few unforced errors. Murray, however, is in a different class and he is likely to advance in straight sets.

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Step serving for set 1 at 5-4. Go, muzz, break him now.

alex , 10/12/12 10:45 AM

Step takes set 1 with some great tennis. and there was me thinking muzz had the easier draw ...
step having an indian summer at the mo, muzz learning it was no fluke that he's been beating all these good players. muzz never had one break point and was pretty much outplayed.

come on, muzz - you have to find another level now.

alex , 10/12/12 10:49 AM

muzz doesn't seem to have any shots today, no spark. got away with solid tennis against dolly, but too many ufes today when he should be hitting winners.

At some point he's going to have to realise it's going to have to be aggressive mode and an A-game to win this one. still with serve 2-1 set 2, but muzz looking a journeyman out there.

alex , 10/12/12 11:04 AM

After FIFTY-SIX minutes, muzz records his FIRST groundstroke winner, takes the game to deuce, but just can't beat stepanek today. a 36-shot rally there, won by stepanek - when muzz loses on that kind of play, it's not his day. muzz still hasn't had a break point. I'm not too confident at the mo.

alex , 10/12/12 11:12 AM

Yay! Muzz breaks for 4-2. now complete the break, muzz - hold your own.

alex , 10/12/12 11:21 AM

Very nice match, with the two players trying to outfox each other. Clearly Stepanek is better at this game at the moment. Murray's serve % looks miserable, not helping him win any cheap points.

Stepanek moves well for his age and he seems determined to win this one. I really like the way he plays, outsmarting his opponent to win points. He has a very interesting game.

luckystar , 10/12/12 11:21 AM

I caught some of Stepanek's match against Isner last night or should I say, the wee hours of the morning. I was surprised at how effectively Step was dealing with Isner. He is a crafty veteran. Isner didn't seem to be quite himself. I wasn't sure if it was Step or just not being on his game. I couldn't see it to the end, but Step seemed to be in control.

Now Andy has lost the first set. Surprising. But he is up a break. I don't think that I will be able to stay up to the end for this one either.

Good luck to Murray.

Nativenewyorker , 10/12/12 11:28 AM

trying to consolidate, muzz down 15-30 after two DFs, then 15-40, muzz screaming, first serve out at 15-40, brilliant disguise from muzz for 30-40, first serve out again, brilliant backhand winner (his first of match) ON the line for deuce, aggressive for advantage muzz, muzz ufe for deuce, incredible backhand crosscourt winner from defence from muzz for advantage again ... and game to muzz.

Phew, another muzzercoaster.

But muzz starting to find another level at last. maybe he was just lacking match practice, but starting to fire now. 5-2, set 2.

alex , 10/12/12 11:29 AM

alex, not watching but sounds as if it's another typical Andy match and a very, very slow start!
In best of 3 I think almost anything can happen, regarding top 50 anyway.

deuce , 10/12/12 11:32 AM

g'nite nny - way past your bed-time:-)

alex , 10/12/12 11:32 AM

and another break for 4-6, 6-2.

Now stay on top, muzz. do something drastice with your 1st serve % this set, don't get broken again and you'll be okay.

no more ups & downs please :-)

alex , 10/12/12 11:38 AM

Hear. Hear. :)
Off colour u reckon alex? Still coughing?

deuce , 10/12/12 11:39 AM

hey deauce, if you were behind the sofa, I'd be saying it's pretty much okay to come out now.

but you just never know with muzz ...

alex , 10/12/12 11:39 AM

no coughs today, deuce, so hopefully nu bugs out there.

muzz just produced a 'hello' moment from the commentator for 15-0 on serve, with an immaculate backhand passing shot from outside the court and onto the line, from a very good approach shot from step. muzz wins game despite step still playing very well. unbelievable tennis now and muzz bringing out the best china ;) (sorry)

alex , 10/12/12 11:45 AM

muzz gisguising, passing, lobbing, it's all out there now, and step holds from 0-40, encouraged up the slope by muzz berating himself to ensure the ufes continue.

alex , 10/12/12 11:52 AM

stepanek is a disgusting excuse for a human being

willmw101 , 10/12/12 12:01 PM

Murray 15-30, then 30-40, bashing his forehead with the racquet - not the strings, the frame! This must really be lifting Step.
"I really thought he was past that stage of his career," says the commentator. "Murray needs to bone up and have have some dignity."
Can't disagree.
After all this encouragement step is now on fire and wins a brilliant point for adv from defence, the way muzz normally does.
great match for the neutrals, but oh deuce - nothing has changed.
muzz broken - credit to step and blame to muzz in equal measure.

alex , 10/12/12 12:03 PM

stepanek looks like a grouper fish

willmw101 , 10/12/12 12:09 PM

why am I watching this when I've got stuff to do?
at 30-30, muzz missed the easiest imaginable volley at the net for the worst stroke I think I've ever seen him play, but somehow muzz raises the game again and breaks back.
oh deuce ...

alex , 10/12/12 12:10 PM

muzz holds to love for 3-2. now muzz, as I was saying at the start of the set ...

alex , 10/12/12 12:13 PM

3-3, still anyone's match.

alex , 10/12/12 12:16 PM

willmw - give him a break, lol. the guy's 33 and playing as well as he ever has.

alex , 10/12/12 12:21 PM

muzz playing great again, taking the ball on the rise, dictating, producing another lovely lob too, and breaks step to love after a DF.

Muzz serving for the match at 5-3. one shot I never feel comfortable about with muzz is the overhead smash, but make gets two chance at it for 30-15 and serves out.

well done step, muzz was not ready for you set 1, but you made him come up with his best stuff to eventually win.

I'm out.

alex , 10/12/12 12:27 PM

An excellent win for Andy, clearly not at the top of his game playing an opponent who was.
Come on champ :)

deuce , 10/12/12 12:35 PM

Steps was ugly as anything for the past several years. Why go at him now? Is it a Czech thing now coming from a Nadal fan? Can't imagine. Davis Cup is coming.

chr18 , 10/12/12 2:07 PM

will, why were u critising him anyway? Can't help the way he looks. Lol they can't all look like Haas.

deuce , 10/12/12 2:19 PM

Aaah, Andy wrote "Happy Birthday gorgeous" on monitor. Kim's birthday today.
How sweet is that? xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

deuce , 10/12/12 2:21 PM

Stepanek just has a very irritating personality. Alos he was so rude to mohammed leyani in his match against isner. Chr18, I know your life revolves around Nadal, however mine does not.

willmw101 , 10/12/12 4:32 PM

" they can't all look like Haas" Hahahahahaaaaa!!! So true ;) :)))
Very nice gesture for Andy regarding Kim ;). True gentleman.

danica , 10/12/12 5:45 PM

Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
2. Murray 8 750 pts
3. Federer 8 670 pts
4. Ferrer 6 970 pts
5. Nadal 6 385 pts

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