ANDY Murray made it two British players in the Australian Open semi-finals as he dug deep to battle past Spain’s David Ferrer.
Murray entered Rod Laver Arena moments after Johanna Konta had departed a victor and he joined his compatriot in the last four with a 6-3 6-7 (5/7) 6-2 6-3 victory.
The world number two will now face either Canadian Milos Raonic or France’s Gael Monfils, who are playing later on Wednesday, for a place in the final.
It is the first time since 1977 that Britain has boasted grand slam semi-finalists in both the men and women’s draw but while it breaks new ground for Konta, this is Murray’s 18th appearance in the last four of a major tournament.
In December 1977, John Lloyd and Sue Barker both reached the Australian Open semi-finals.
Four times he has gone on to the final in Melbourne and lost but while there were periods where Murray struggled for fluency against Ferrer, he also produced some of his best tennis when it really mattered.
I like playing indoors. I grew up in Scotland so I’m used to playing indoors, I don’t mind itAndy Murray
Ferrer came into the match as the only man in the draw not to have dropped a set but the Spaniard was outclassed by Murray’s attacking prowess, particularly after the stadium’s roof was closed in the third set following some nearby thunder and lightning.
“It was good to have a break because we played some brutal rallies so we could come back refreshed,” Murray said.
“It is tough in those situations. Ideally I would have played the next game and held and then had the break.
“But I like playing indoors. I grew up in Scotland where the weather isn’t like here so I grew up playing indoors, I don’t mind it.”
Murray seemed comfortable in the first set, breaking for 3-1 after Ferrer dumped three shots in the net and then toying with his opponent at 5-2, with a brilliant drop-shot, lob, drop-volley sequence that left the crowd in raptures.
A break each in the second put the match in the balance but also reflected a fightback from Ferrer, who was hitting deeper and pinning Murray behind the baseline.
The frustrated Scot winced and grabbed the back of his left hamstring after one missed forehand and his problems were mounting as he was forced to save a set point at 5-4 with a swinging ace down the middle.
The tie-break was tight but Murray surrendered the initiative by blazing a backhand volley wide before Ferrer won a 31-shot rally - the longest so far - to move 5-3 clear.
The Spaniard was growing in confidence and when a rare venture to the net resulted in a sharp forehand volley, Murray said “wow” behind a wry smile.
Ferrer sealed the set to level up but the Briton reacts better to setbacks these days and he came storming out of the blocks with an early break in the third.
With Murray up 3-1, play was suddenly suspended due to thunder and lightning nearby, which irritated Ferrer, who protested to the umpire “come on bud, it’s not even raining”.
The delay was minimal, lasting just nine minutes, and if anything it was Murray’s momentum at risk but the Scot picked up where he left off, breaking a second time at 5-2 to restore his one-set advantage.
With the roof on, Murray was now in charge as he cranked up the aggression and produced levels Ferrer was simply unable to match.
Down a break, the Spaniard threatened a comeback at 4-2 but Murray saved a break point with the shot of the match, chasing down Ferrer’s volley before whipping a low forehand down the line for a brilliant pass.
It proved the final flourish as Ferrer sent a backhand return wide in the next game to confirm Murray’s victory in three hours and 20 minutes.
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