MELBOURNE • World No. 2 Andy Murray weathered a storm from Spain's David Ferrer over four tough sets to advance to his sixth semi-final in seven years at the Australian Open yesterday.
The Scot finished stronger, beating the eighth seed 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 6-3 in 3hr 20min and will play Canadian Milos Raonic in tomorrow's semi-final.
Ferrer proved a difficult proposition for Murray, slugging it out from the baseline relentlessly and keeping the Scot working hard in a physically demanding match on Rod Laver Arena.
Murray appeared to benefit from the change to the slower court conditions when the stadium roof was closed during the third set because of an approaching thunderstorm.
"I found it a bit easier to return. It was quite windy when the roof was open, so returning was tricky and, against David's extremely accurate forehand, that helped me a little bit," he said.
"It was actually good for us to have a little break because we played some brutal rallies at the beginning of the third set and also at the end of the second, so I came back a bit more refreshed."
HELP FROM ABOVE
It was quite windy when the roof was open, so returning was tricky and, against David's extremely accurate forehand, that helped me a little bit.
ANDY MURRAY, on the court conditions that favoured him after the Rod Laver Arena roof was closed because of an approaching thunderstorm.
Ferrer had evened up the contest after a thrilling tie-break featuring rallies of 27 and 31 shots that brought an end to an absorbing 71-minute second set.
He protested that there was no rain and was right to be concerned as he was always chasing the match thereafter, his groundstrokes losing some of their venom in the new conditions.
Venom is something that Murray's next opponent will not be short of.
Raonic used his big serve and fierce forehands yesterday to become the first Canadian man to reach the last four at Melbourne Park.
He overpowered Frenchman Gael Monfils 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to remain unbeaten this year.
Raonic, who defeated Roger Federer in the Brisbane final, holds a 9-0 win-loss record this month and is full of confidence.
"It's a great challenge ahead of me," said the world No. 14 of his meeting against the four-time runner-up here. "A challenge that I believe I have with myself to find a solution to."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS