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Murray withdraws, two Frenchmen reach the semis

Video by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-02-27

Frenchman Richard Gasquet (photo) saw his opponent, Andy Murray, withdraw because of a virus while compatriot Gilles Simon got the best over veteran Fabrice Santoro to reach the Dubai Open semi-finals.

REUTERS - Gilles Simon reached the semi-finals of the Dubai Championships on Thursday but the tournament lost second seed Andy Murray, who pulled out with a virus.

Briton Murray, who has been feeling unwell since the Australian Open, withdrew before his quarter-final against Richard Gasquet, giving the Frenchman a walkover into the last four.

"My temperature's up, sore throat, sore head, my body's aching a little bit, so I need to take some time off," the Scot said.

Third-seeded Simon's 7-6 6-1 win brought down the curtain on the 17-year record of fellow Frenchman Fabrice Santoro at the event.

The match was followed by an on-court ceremony during which Santoro was given a model of a traditional Arabian dhow.

Set to retire at the Paris Masters at the end of this season, the 36-year-old Santoro reached the final of the first Dubai Championships in 1993 and won a remarkable final 10 years later when he rose from his sick bed to defeat Younes El Aynaoui.

"I think that's the main memory because I remember that year, I was playing very good tennis and I reached the final," Santoro told reporters.

"And then the next 24 hours before the final was a tragic situation because I was feeling so bad. I was really, really sick, as sick as I've ever been in my life.

"Just a half-hour before the match, I thought I wouldn't be able to go on the court but I went out there and two hours later I came out with the trophy."

Simon made a slow start, falling behind 3-1 after conceding his serve in the third game. Although he swept the next four games he was unable to serve out the set.

A backhand error allowed Santoro to break and he levelled at 5-5 with an ace but Simon regained control in the tiebreak to take it 7-3.

Santoro held off three break points to hold for 1-0 in the second set but Simon was able to take the next six games to wrap up the match.

"Well, I had a bad start again," said Simon. "It's not easy, because I have some problems with my serve.

"But finally I just wanted to fight again because I knew that if I won this set, then I will win the match. So that's why I played a very good tiebreak."

Date created : 2009-02-26

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