Andy Murray wins through to Olympic final

Andy Murray roars during his match against Japan's Kei Nishikori in the Olympic semi-final. Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Andy Murray roars during his match against Japan's Kei Nishikori in the Olympic semi-final. Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

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Andy Murray will go for gold again after ruthlessly dispatching Kei Nishikori in a one-sided Olympic semi-final in Rio.

TThe defending champion, who is now guaranteed his third Olympic medal, recovered from the brink against both Fabio Fognini and Steve Johnson in the last two rounds.

On paper, this was a big step up against the fourth seed but Murray was superb from start to finish and did not face a break point in a 6-1, 6-4 victory.

He will play either Rafael Nadal or Juan Martin Del Potro for the gold medal on Sunday, when hopefully there will be more people there to witness it.

The arena was less than a quarter full when the players walked out and that did not improve much during the match.

Murray never found top gear against Johnson and knew he needed to play better to give himself a shot at gold.

He did that right from the start, finding more pop on his groundstrokes on a warm, sunny day and using his serve to keep Nishikori at bay.

Murray broke the Nishikori serve to lead 3-1 and then shrugged off a time violation, having a brief complain to umpire Carlos Ramos before winning the next two points.

Nishikori is one of the game’s sweetest ball strikers and a graceful mover, but Murray’s shots were proving too hot to handle.

The world No 2 broke again to lead 5-1 and serve out the set with an ace.

Murray had cause for confidence going into the match having won six of his previous seven matches against Nishikori but their last meeting in Davis Cup in March turned into a five-set marathon after the Scot had won the opening two sets.

Faltering after a great start has been all too familiar for Murray at these Games, with the 29-year-old dominating the opening set against both Fognini and Johnson before becoming dragged into tense battles.

But this time he maintained his momentum and broke Nishikori again for 3-2 in the second set with a lot of help from his opponent.

That proved to be all the advantage he needed, although Nishikori managed a late rally by saving two break points.

The crowd, which was now approaching half full, roared as Murray brought up a third match point after a stunning rally, ending up sitting on the court with his fist raised after somehow threading a passing shot down the line.

And, when Nishikori netted a backhand on the next point, a delighted Murray was able to celebrate victory and at least a silver medal.

Murray won the singles in 2012 by defeating Roger Federer in the final, then won a silver in the mixed doubles with Laura Robson.

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