A brilliant performance from Roger Federer overcame a stubborn effort from Andy Murray to set up a semi-final clash with Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open.
Federer had two match points in the third set that Murray saved before winning the tie-break, but the resurgent Swiss finally made his overall superiority count to seal a 6-3 6-4 6-7(6) 6-3 victory.
Federer’s work with coach Stefan Edberg appeared to be paying dividends from the off, with the Swiss taking control of rallies with an aggressive style that saw him rush the net a number of times, winning 87% of such points in the first set alone.
That first set was won in just 31 minutes, a break in the fourth game making the difference for Federer. The second set continued in a similar style, Murray struggling to make his mark throughout and Federer almost completely untroubled on his own serve.
A break to make it 3-2 set up the set for Federer, and Murray responded by removing his white cap.
Murray contended better in the third set, but still could not make many inroads into Federer’s service games.
The set turned at 4-4 – a Murray drop shot was barely reached by Federer, who somehow lifted it over Murray to win the point. However, replays showed that the ball seemed to bounce a second time almost simultaneously with Federer’s racquet making contact.
After a short discussion between Federer and the umpire, play continued and an irritated Murray lost both subsequent points to be broken once again.
With Federer serving for the match, Murray earned two break points, his first of the match.
Federer saved one but went long with a forehand to keep Murray in the match. The set went to a tie-break, and Murray saved two match points before snatching the set for himself.
The fourth set kicked off in crazy fashion. With Federer holding serve, he then took a 0-40 lead on Murray’s serve. What followed was a 26-point, 19-minute game that saw Murray save six break points and eventually hold.
Another break point was saved in the sixth game by Murray, and his next service game brought three more break points.
Murray saved two of them, but Federer finally took advantage with a superb drop shot that Murray reached only to leave an open court.
For the second time, Federer was serving for the match. He fell 0-30 behind but set up match point at 40-30 and an ace out wide completed the victory in three hours and 20 minutes.