Murray, Falla advance to quarters at Los Angeles tennis

Daily News Egypt
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LOS ANGELES: Colombia’s Alejandro Falla and Scot Andy Murray shared top billing on centre court at the ATP Farmers Classic on Thursday.

Falla, who is enjoying the best season of his career, rallied to upset fifth seeded Ernests Gulbis 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (10/8) in a marathon second-round match at the ATP Farmers Classic.

The 26-year-old left-handed Falla took advantage of some sloppy tennis in the third set tiebreaker by the talented but enigmatic 21-year-old Gulbis on Thursday.

"I played well, especially in the last set," Falla said. We were both tired and trying our best. I am happy to get through to the quarter-finals."

Falla advances to the next round where he will meet top seeded Andy Murray who had little trouble with American qualifier Tim Smyczek 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.
The 23-year-old Murray was playing his first match since sacking his coach Miles Maclagan and the first tournament since reaching the semis at Wimbledon for the second consecutive year.

Murray, who is the first British player to reach the Los Angeles quarters since Greg Rusedski in 2004, has enjoyed success in California in the past, winning twice in San Jose (2007, 2006).

He also finished runner up at Indian Wells in the California desert last year.

"I hope to have a good run here," said Murray, who had his best season on ATP Tour last year reaching No. 2 top ranked player in the world.

"Tonight was a good match there were a lot long rallies in the first two sets. Hopefully it will stand me in good stead."

In other play Thursday, Spanish fourth seed Feliciano Lopez defeated Dudi Sela 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 and American James Blake beat Benjamin Becker 7-5, 7-6 (7/5).

This was the first career ATP Tour meeting between the two players who have each reached career high rankings this year with Falla ranked 58 and Gulbis 27th in the world.

An emotional Gulbis, of Latvia, was prone to outbursts as he threw his racket numerous times, smashing two of them during the two hour, 15 minute match.

"Nothing worked today," said Gulbis who was playing his first tournament in two months after injuring his hamstring. "I was just running like a Spanish clay court player standing on the baseline and pushing the ball back … women’s tennis.

"If you don’t do something for two months it is really tough. If you don’t fish for tough months then maybe you forget how to fish."

For his part, Gulbis survived five match points in the third set tiebreaker before losing on a short forehand return.

Falla thought he could have won the match four points earlier by default when Latvian got upset and fired his racket into the net in frustration but even he didn’t want to see it end that way.

Gulbis had already been warned earlier by the chair umpire Fergus Murphy in the second set for a similar outburst and was penalized one point.

Gulbis thought Murphy, of Ireland, should have just let them play.

"This referee his only purpose in life is to give somebody warnings.

He is like a police officer when they see a car they stop it and they have so much fun to give you a ticket. In Latvia, I stop where you cannot stop and they have a smile on their face as they give me a ticket, ha. Same with this guy.

"Whatever I would do I would get a warning."

Asked if he should have been disqualified for breaking rackets and kicking balls, Gulbis said he thought the crowd was entertained.

"He wouldn’t do that (default the match). People enjoyed it.

"It wasn’t the best tennis but it was good fight. I broke rackets. OK, they (crowd) booed me but I think honestly they enjoyed it. If he would have disqualified me in the tiebreaker it would have been really stupid."

Falla, who took Roger Federer to five sets earlier this year at Wimbledon, reached his second quarter final of 2010 by keeping his composure.

"It helped me a lot," Falla said of Gulbis’ emotional play. "He gave me a few chances and I got them. I was just trying to return aggressively and be aggressive from the baseline."


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