Just under 24 hours ago, it looked as though Great Britain’s reigning singles gold medalist Andy Murray might be ousted from the Rio Olympics by Italy’s unseeded Fabio Fognini – but the World No. 2 somehow pulled through.
On Friday morning, Murray played another difficult three-setter against 12th-seeded American opponent Steve Johnson. This time, he won his quarterfinal match in a two hour-plus epic.
The Briton took the first set in about half an hour, ripping winner after winner. Johnson didn’t earn a single point, losing 6-0.
Murray’s momentum slowed in the second. Johnson won the first two games, then – despite resistance from Murray – ultimately took the set 6-4.
In the third set, Murray and Johnson traded games until they reached a tiebreak. Murray quickly established a lead, winning 7-2.
Final score: 6-0, 4-6, 7(7)-6(2).
Neither Fognini nor Johnson would seem like a particularly formidable opponent for Murray, who just won his third Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in July. (Though the fact that they made it to the Rio Games’ third round and quarterfinals, respectively, is a testament to their strong Olympic performances.) But Murray’s game has been wildly inconsistent these past few days, as reflected in the match scores.
It’s a huge win for the Briton, who – should he lose his semifinal match – will compete in a medal match regardless. But this quarterfinal also marked the end of the United States’ hopes for a men’s singles medal; Johnson was the last American man standing in that category.
Still, Johnson will have a chance to redeem himself this afternoon when he plays doubles alongside Jack Sock. The American team will play their Bronze Medal Match against Canadians Nestor/Pospisil.