Andy Murray gets closer to US Open final as Federer goes out
Scot comes back from a set and 5-1 down to beat Croatian Cilic; Federer falls to Tomas Berdych
ANDY MURRAY is two matches away from clinching his first Grand Slam title after reaching the semi-finals of the US Open. The Scot did it the hard way, coming back from a set and 5-1 down to see off Croatia's Marin Cilic on a rainswept evening in New York.
Murray's chances of reaching the final were further improved by the news from the Arthur Ashe Stadium that No1 seed Roger Federer, playing in his 34th consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final, had suffered a shock defeat to Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic.
Murray will now meet Berdych on Saturday and the 25-year-old winner of the Olympic men's title will be expected to progress to Sunday's final.
Murray's match with Cilic, the 12th seed, was slated for the Arthur Ashe Stadium but was moved to the Louis Armstrong Court because rain had disrupted the schedule. It was Murray who appeared most affected by the switch, losing the first set 6-3 and slipping to a 5-1 deficit in the second.
Then the third seed began moving with more speed and serving with more accuracy. His opponent sensed the transformation and having allowed Murray back into the second set Cilic collapsed to a 3-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 6-0 defeat.
"He played very well at the start and I struggled a little bit," admitted Murray later. "When I managed to get the breaks back in the second set I relaxed a little bit."
The Scot added that the manner of his victory was nothing new. "I've had a lot of tough matches. Everyone goes through them. We've seen Rafa [Nadal], Novak [Djokovic] and Roger struggle here. There is pressure on you to perform well, expectations are high and sometimes you're nervous."
Murray's word proved prophetic as Federer subsequently crashed to defeat at the hands of the big-serving Berdych. The Swiss legend, bidding for his 18th Grand Slam title, was blasted off court 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 3-6 6-3, the first time Federer has suffered such an early elimination at Flushing Meadow since 2003.
"I just didn't come up with the goods tonight," said the five-times US Open champion. "It was unfortunate."
It was Berdych's fourth victory in his last seven meetings against Federer who again had no answer to the power of the Czech and was reduced to making 40 unforced errors. "There is no better moment than this, I really enjoyed it," said Berdych later. "The crowd were great and I'm really looking forward to the next one."
Murray should be better equipped to deal with the 6ft 5in Berdych and the Scot has the added incentive of knowing that victory in the semi-final will move him above Rafa Nadal into third in the world rankings.
The remaining two quarter-finals will be contested this evening with David Ferrer taking on Janko Tipsarevic and No2 seed Novak Djokovic facing Juan Martin.