Andy Murray came from behind to beat Albert Ramos-Viñolas with a battling display at the Barcelona Open, winning a third-set tie-break to avenge his surprise defeat by the Spaniard at last week’s Monte Carlo Masters.
Ramos-Viñolas, who was beaten in straight sets by compatriot Rafael Nadal in the final at Monte Carlo and who was seeded 10th in Barcelona, started well against Murray and looked poised to beat the World No 1 for the second time in as many weeks.
However the claycourter blew a chance to serve for the match in the decisive third set with Murray going on to win the pivotal tie-break 7-4, completing a three-set win in a little under three hours on Pista Rafa Nadal. Murray will now play Dominic Thiem for a place in the final.
Murray collapsed when the pair played in Monte Carlo, remarking after the match that he was “disappointed to lose from the position that I was in,” after he let a 4-0 lead slip in the third set.
And in Barcelona, Ramos-Viñolas was able to maintain the momentum from the pair’s last match, as he won five of the first six service games to race into an early lead.
The World No 19 has made a strong start to the new season – making it to the final of the Brasil Open and getting to the last four of the ATP 500 level Rio Open before his run at the Monte Carlo Masters – but he was assisted in the first set of this match by Murray’s string of unforced errors.
Murray’s first-serve percentage in the opening set was just 35% while his second-serve was repeatedly punished by Ramos-Viñolas, who won an impressive 53% of second return points as he took the first set 6-2.
Murray began to improve in the second although was made to work hard by his opponent, who was on the verge of serving for the match when he held three break points at 4-4. But the Brit kept his cool to hold serve, and then pounced to break late in the set, to take the quarter-final the distance.
Ramos-Viñolas had more than one opportunity to open up a commanding lead in the third, with the pair exchanging breaks to make it 2-2. The Spaniard then broke again at 4-4 to serve for the match, only to lose his nerve and send the game into a tie-break.
Murray’s big-game experience came to the fore as he won the first four points and, despite losing then next three, he dug deep to win the match 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4).
“It was obviously a very tough match. It was kind of the opposite of the match we had last week, where probably today he deserved to win, he created a lot more chances, he served for the match and couldn't quite get it,” Murray told reporters after his win.
“Last week I had 4-0, I felt like I had all of the chances and sometimes on clay matches happen this way so I'm very happy to get through.
“I started coming to the net more and volleying, I felt like I started to dictate more of the points and that was a big difference."
The World No 1 will now play rising star Dominic Thiem on Saturday, after the Austrian booked his place in the last four earlier on Friday by easing past Yuichi Sugita of Japan 6-1 6-2.
Nine-time Barcelona Open champion Rafael Nadal meets South Korea's Hyeon Chung later on Friday to set up a semi-final with wither Russia's Karen Khachanov or Argentine Horacio Zeballos.