Tennis: Off-song Murray battles into Queen's semis

Murray (left) shakes hands with Britain's Kyle Edmund in their men's singles quarter-final match.
Murray (left) shakes hands with Britain's Kyle Edmund in their men's singles quarter-final match.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - Defending champion Andy Murray survived a stern test from Kyle Edmund to reach the Queen's Club semi-finals with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 victory over the British wildcard on Friday (June 17).

Murray will play Croatia's Marin Cilic in the last four on Saturday in a rematch of the 2013 final at the Wimbledon warm-up event in west London.

But the world number two had to dig deep to remain on course for a record fifth Queen's crown after a lacklustre first two sets against an inexperienced 21-year-old ranked 83 places below him.

Murray defeated 2012 champion Cilic in the final three years ago but if the 29-year-old wants to repeat that he will have to improve significantly on his curiously limp performance against Edmund, who showed why he is regarded as Murray's likely successor as British number one with an inspired effort before being blown away in the deciding set.

"I train with Kyle a lot so I know how good he is. He is big, strong and when he is on, he is very tough to play against," Murray said.

"Kyle is the future of the game in this country. I have felt that in practice and I felt that in the match.

"He served extremely well, but I tried to up my aggression at the start of the third set and thankfully it worked."

Murray had waited 10 years to face a British opponent until he beat Aljaz Bedene in the second round on Thursday and just 24 hours later the top seed was taking on another compatriot in the promising Edmund.

It was the first all-British Queen's Club quarter-final in the Open era and the first last eight showdown between two Brits on the ATP Tour since Tim Henman defeated Greg Rusedski in Adelaide in 2002.

Murray looked set to take control when he broke for an early 2-1 lead.

However, as in his wins over Bedene and Nicolas Mahut, Murray was some way short of his best and there was an immediate break back by Edmund, who appeared unperturbed by being unexpectedly awoken in the early hours of Friday to take delivery of a washing machine in his new flat.

Murray raised himself a little, unloading enough winners to take the first set.

The Scot still looked short of energy and Edmund moved 3-1 ahead in the second.

Although Murray broke in the next game, he took a nasty tumble that left him holding his groin before Edmund stunningly broke again to draw level at one-set all.

Murray was on the ropes but he hit back emphatically with a pair of early breaks to finally restore the status quo in the third set.

Former US Open champion Cilic battled back to defeat American Steve Johnson 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-4 in the day's first quarter-final as the fifth seed advanced to the Queen's semi-finals for the third time.

"I really enjoy playing here. Grass suits my game and when I'm in good form I can always play really well," Cilic said.

"I'm looking forward to Saturday's match. It's going to be probably a little bit of a crowd against me, but I'm going to enjoy that."

Later, Canadian third seed Milos Raonic takes on Spanish sixth seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who will be playing for the second time on Friday after completing his second-round win over Donald Young.

The last quarter-final is between Australian Bernard Tomic and Luxembourg's Gilles Muller, who saved 10 match points before beating John Isner in the second round on Thursday.