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.
Comment: The best result for Murray
- Defeat to Roger Federer in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open was the best result for Andy Murray.
- The British No. 1 was clearly not back to full fitness and grimaced his way through the match. Yes, he's got some games under his belt following the surgery but another four or five sets against the beast that is Rafael Nadal will have done him little favours. Murray now has five months to get ready for the busy summer period, starting with the French Open.
- But let's take nothing away from Federer. The Stefan Edberg effect has worked wonders, while Federer has accepted that he is no longer fit enough to take time off in the winter and the hard work of the last four months has paid dividends.
- Federer finished? Not a chance.
- Alex Perry, ESPN
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.
Earlier, Nadal shook off his troublesome blistered left hand to see off Grigor Dimitrov 3-6 7-6(3) 7-6(7) 6-2 in the Australian Open quarter-finals.
Nadal, a 13-time grand slam champion, struggled on Dimitrov's first serve as the Bulgarian flew out the blocks and won the opening set.
But the result of the match came down to two tie-breaks. Nadal dominated the first, in the second set, but in the third Nadal wasted a 4-2 lead with his fourth double-fault of the match and a series of unforced errors to hand Dimitrov three chances to take the set.
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But the 22-year-old, playing his first grand slam quarter-final, conceded the first two points before missing a straightforward forehand into the corner to hand advantage back to Nadal - who won three straight points to take a 2-1 lead.
Dimitrov looked broken, and Nadal broke early in the fourth before breaking again at 5-2 with Dimitrov serving to stay in the championship - winning his fourth match point after three hours and 37 minutes. The Spaniard will now face Andy Murray or Roger Federer, who play later on Wednesday.
Nadal said: "Grigor has everything to become a great champion. He has a lot of similarities to Roger [Federer] so if he can keep playing this way then normal evolution says he will go to the very top.
"I was very lucky. At set point in the third he missed an easy forehand. Today it just happened for me and I'm very happy to be in the semi-finals in a tournament that I was so upset to miss last year."
On the blistered hand, he added: "I'm especially feeling it on the serves, but I will go away today and get treatment and concentrate on getting it better for the next match."