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Murray downs Tsonga to set up Djokovic clash

Michael Beattie at Flushing Meadows
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Andy Murray claimed his first win against top-10 opposition in 14 months against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga © AP
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Andy Murray will face world No.1 Novak Djokovic for a place in the US Open semi-finals after beating No.9 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5 7-5 6-4 in the fourth round.

On another sweltering day in New York, 2012 champion Murray struggled to keep his cool at times but applied enough pressure late in each set to avenge his defeat by the Frenchman at the Rogers Cup last month.

The victory was Murray's first win against a top-10 player in eight matches, dating back to his victory over Djokovic in the Wimbledon final some 14 months ago.

"It was extremely tough conditions, very humid and windy," Murray said. "The first two sets were very long, tough sets, mentally quite draining. The third set was tougher, but when I got the hold from 2-0 down the momentum was with me."

Murray was quickly into his stride on Arthur Ashe Stadium, winning his first 10 points on serve and bringing up break points in both of the Frenchman's opening service games.

Tsonga stood firm but Murray was in irresistible form throughout the set, winning all but one point behind his first serve and making his nine net approaches count, playing the perfect point to work his way forward and punch away another volley to claim the first set.

The second was a scrappier affair as both players' serves deserted them early on, opening the door for Tsonga to attack Murray's vulnerable second delivery and break for a 2-1 lead. But Murray hit back to level up at 4-4 with some blistering ball-striking from the baseline and again applied the necessary pressure with the set on the line.

No sooner had Murray secured the two-set lead than he gave up a break at the start of the third, berating himself in no uncertain terms for the lapse in concentration. The pep talk had the desired effect, however, as the No.8 seed broke back before producing a moment of magic, swiping a cross-court winner on the run off a Tsonga smash.

This time Murray allowed Tsonga to put himself under pressure while serving to stay in the match, the Frenchman double-faulting twice before sending a backhand long to fold after two hours, 35 minutes.

Earlier on Louis Armstrong Stadium, top seed Novak Djokovic reached his 22nd consecutive grand slam quarter-final with a 6-1 7-5 6-4 victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber.

The 2011 champion ran away with the first set against the German, but the world No.25 stayed with him in the second and briefly threatened to nick the set with his first break point of the match at 4-5.

Kohlschreiber worked his way to the net but Djokovic flashed a cross-court forehand pass beyond him to avert the danger, feeding off the Louis Armstrong crowd as he held then broke to move two sets clear, before claiming the decisive break at the start of the third.

Djokovic holds a 12-8 head-to-head record against Murray, but came off second best in the finals of the Scot's two grand slam triumphs, first in New York and again at the All England Club.

For his part, Murray relished the prospect of a 21st showdown with the world No.1.

"Tough match - we've had a lot of long ones," Murray admitted. "We had a long one here a few years ago, and I have great memories of that match. If I play well I have a chance."

Michael Beattie is a tennis writer for ESPN. Follow him on Twitter here.

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