Terrific Thiem sends Murray tumbling in Barcelona
An inspired Dominic Thiem progressed to the final of the Barcelona Open with a thrilling three-set victory over an out-of-sorts Andy Murray.
World number one Murray, who had a 2-0 head-to-head record over Thiem prior to the encounter, had to battle to victory over Albert Ramos-Vinolas on Friday, but 24 hours later succumbed to a 6-2 3-6 6-4 defeat.
The Scot appeared to have turned the tide after levelling the match and going up an early break in the decider, but Thiem was rewarded for his aggressive and accurate play, and he can now look forward to a final with nine-time champion Rafael Nadal or Horacio Zeballos.
Murray was seemingly struggling with an arm injury in the early stages and his timing was well off as Thiem, who had not dropped a set en route to the last four, broke at the first opportunity.
A mixture of brilliant striking from Thiem and sloppy play from Murray led to a double-break 4-1 lead when the Scot sent a forehand long.
Thiem endured a slight dip as Murray earned one break back, but he quickly regained the momentum as a sublime sliced cross-court forehand and a brilliant backhand pass restored his healthy advantage.
The fourth seed swiftly served out the set and had Murray on the back foot in a lengthy first game of set two, while a break-point chance also went begging in game seven when he put a wild forehand wide.
And Murray made the most of the reprieve, earning a crucial break as Thiem went long after a lengthy rally before going wide on break point.
The momentum was seemingly with Murray as he broke immediately in the first game, but he handed it straight back before a poor double fault in game six saw Thiem go 4-2 in front.
Once again, though, Murray showed his battling qualities to restore parity, but, when serving to stay in the match, he smashed a forehand wastefully wide before being unable to return a lob as Thiem secured a spot in the final.