Enigmatic Murray breezes into Australian Open semi final

Andy Murray at the Asutralian Open

Scot makes the last four of a Grand Slam for the fifth time running

BY Jonathan Harwood LAST UPDATED AT 09:38 ON Wed 25 Jan 2012

DEPENDING on your opinion of him, Britain's great tennis enigma Andy Murray has either reinforced his credentials as one of the greatest players never to have won a Grand Slam or set himself up for yet another disappointment by progressing to the semi-finals of the Australian Open.

The Scot has reached his fifth straight Grand Slam semi-final and remains on course for his third Australian Open final in a row after beating Japanese challenger Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 in the quarter-finals. But he is now likely to face defending champion Novak Djokovic in the last four.

Last year Murray became only the seventh player in 33 years to reach the semis of all four Grand Slam tournaments. But that statistic serves to emphasise the fact that Murray now exists on a plateau above most of the rest of the tour but one level below the world's three greatest players. Three times in 2011 he lost semi-finals to Rafa Nadal and the one time he made it to the final (after beating David Ferrer in Australia) he was undone by Djokovic.

Murray proved his mastery over the tours' lesser mortals once again on Wednesday as he downed the young Japanese, who was seeded 24 and is a huge star in his homeland.

"These days he chews up lower-ranked players as routinely as a juicer devouring a pile of carrots. But the real challenge is still ahead of him," says The Daily Telegraph.

And, as usual with Murray, not everything went smoothly. "If it's possible to be relaxed and vulnerable at the same time, Andy Murray was that tennis beast on a mild afternoon on Rod Laver Arena," reported The Guardian.

"His serving was not of the quality of a top four player and someone with more snap in their legs and belief in their hearts than Nishikori would have torn him to shreds," warned The Times. "Maybe it needs Murray to come up against one of the very best in the world, for someone to really push him, for the talent he has to fully flower." · 

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