ANDY Murray has been installed as the favourite to beat Roger Federer tomorrow and reach another Australian Open final.
Despite being seeded three with the Swiss the No 2, Murray is an odds-on 8/13 bet with bookies William Hill to reach his third Australian Open final, having been runner-up to Federer in 2010 and Novak Djokovic in 2011. Serbian world No 1 Djokovic, the defending champion in Melbourne, faces Spain’s David Ferrer in today’s first semi-final.
Yesterday, reigning US Open champion Murray, who is bidding to become the first man in the Open era to follow up his first grand slam triumph by also winning the next major, defeated Jeremy Chardy of France in a straightforward three-set encounter. The Scot, 25, kept up his record of not dropping a set in this year’s event with a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 victory in one hour and 51 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
“I thought I started the match pretty well,” said Murray afterwards. “Then, when he got the break back in the first set, I got a bit tight. He’s a tough guy to play against because of the nature of his game and his style. He goes for a lot of shots and he can play a couple of games where he misses and then three, four games when he’s hot and makes very few errors, but I thought I did a pretty good job throughout the match.”
In contrast, a visibly shaken Chardy said he couldn’t believe how well Murray had played.
“I’ve played him several times, and every time I always thought
I had a chance,” said the world No 36, who beat Murray when they last met in August in Cincinnati.
“Today he never let me think even once I had a chance to win. He’s calm on the court. He was so concentrated, and had so much intensity from the start.
“Right away I was in difficulty. And during the whole match he never dropped his level.”
After Murray’s relatively simple passage, Federer was taken to a fifth set in his quarter-final by another Frenchman, Jo Wilfried Tsonga.
The Swiss eventually came through 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 3-6, 6-3 and admitted: “It was tough the whole match. Any set could have gone either way.
“It was tough because you never know what Jo-Wilfried is going to come up with. I feel a bit lucky to come through.”
As for playing Murray tomorrow, the 31-year-old added: “I’ve got to recover a little but I’m going to be fine – I’m young, I recover quick.
“I’m looking forward to the match. It’s going to be tough. He had a great year last year, winning his first grand slam and Olympic gold.
“He is a great guy and a great player.
“I’m expecting a tough match.”
Of the four men in the semi-finals – the four top seeds with Spain’s Rafael Nadal, last year’s runner-up, still recovering from a knee injury – Murray is the freshest having spent the least time on court, just under nine hours in the past 10 days.
And he said: “I can’t be disappointed with where my game’s at and I hope in the next round I play better again.”