SAN DIEGO — Andy Murray’s bid to reach quarterfinals in consecutive weeks ended with a mistake-filled 7-5, 6-4 loss to No. 2 seed Casper Ruud at the San Diego Open.
The match was even at 5-all but turned when Murray, a three-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1-ranked player who is now 109th, allowed the first set to slip away entirely and also fell behind early in the second by dropping five consecutive games.
That included a stretch of seven consecutive unforced errors off the racket of Murray, a 34-year-old who is still working his way back into form after two hip operations and a series of other injuries.
“On the opposite side of the net from me was a legend of the game,” said Ruud, a 22-year-old from Norway who is ranked a career-high No. 10 and helped Team Europe win the Laver Cup exhibition event last week.
Ruud called Murray “an inspiration” – both for the way he was a star of the sport in the past and the way he has fought to return from his hip problems. Murray’s run at a tournament in Metz, France, last week was his first ATP quarterfinal appearance since October 2019.
But it’ll be Ruud who plays in that round Friday as he pursues what would be a tour-leading fifth title of the season. Ruud faces No. 9 seed Lorenzo Sonego of Italy, who beat 21-year-old American Sebastian Korda 6-4, 6-3.
Other quarterfinal matchups will be No. 1 seed Andrey Rublev against No. 6 Diego Schwartzman, No. 4 Denis Shapovalov against Cam Norrie, and Aslan Karatsev against Grigor Dimitrov.
Shapovalov erased a big deficit and six set points in the opener en route to a 7-6 (7), 6-2 victory over Taylor Fritz.
Dimitrov won 6-1, 6-1 at night against August Holmgren, who plays tennis at the University of San Diego. Holmgren lost in qualifying for the hard-court tournament that was added to the schedule when Asian events were called off because of the pandemic, but he was able to move into the draw after No. 3 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime pulled out because of an upper leg injury.
Norrie got to his career-best ninth quarterfinal of the season by eliminating No. 8 seed Dan Evans 7-6 (3), 6-3 in an all-British matchup. Karatsev, an Australian Open semifinalist in February, beat No. 5 Hubert Hurkacz, a Wimbledon semifinalist in July, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.
Shapovalov, a 22-year-old left-hander from Canada, fell behind 4-1, love-40 at the outset against Fritz.
“It was happening quick out there,” Shapovalov said. “Super happy to kind of just, like, dig my way out of it.”
Fritz earned his first two set points while leading 6-5 as Shapovalov served; one went away with a service winner, the other with a forehand winner.
Then, in the tiebreaker, Fritz went up 6-3 and wound up with a total of four more set points, the last of which came at 7-6 after Shapovalov netted a forehand and screamed at himself.
That’s when everything changed. Shapovalov used a volley winner to save that one, sparking a run in which he collected 15 of 17 points to take that set and a 3-0 lead in the second.
“After I yelled … I released myself and allowed myself to free up and just play really, really good tennis from there on. I felt like I was much more relaxed and free from that moment on,” Shapovalov said. “And obviously, when you win a set like this, it’s a confidence booster and I was trying to take advantage of that.”