Title holder Andy Murray beat fellow racket-trasher Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 to reach the semi-finals of the Japan Open yesterday in a match which brought both men to boiling point.
Second seed Tomas Berdych crashed out in the day’s late quarter-final, beaten 7-5, 6-4 by local favorite Kei Nishikori under floodlights in the tournament’s biggest upset so far.
Olympic champion Murray survived a scare from the Swiss in brilliant Tokyo sunshine.
Briton Murray faces sixth seed Milos Raonic today after the big-serving Canadian squeaked by third seed Janko Tipsarevic 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 7-6 (9/7) in an epic struggle.
“It will be a totally different match,” Murray told reporters, looking ahead to Raonic. “He’s obviously got a massive serve. I played him a few weeks ago at the US Open. He’s always a tricky player because of his game style.”
Murray attacked Wawrinka from the start, sealing a double break after chasing down a drop-volley and whipping a superb lob into the corner with Wawrinka’s nose still poking over the net.
Seventh seed Wawrinka had clearly not read the script and fought back to take the second, Murray smashing his racket on the court in disgust.
Normal service resumed in the decider, though. Murray was a touch fortunate to break for 3-1 when a forehand return clipped the net and rolled onto Wawrinka’s side of the court. A frustrated Wawrinka responded by mangling his own racket in the next game.
Making a bold fashion statement in a pair of bright orange goggles, Serbian Tipsarevic held a match point in the final set tiebreak, only for Raonic to snatch it away with a huge serve.
Raonic took the tiebreaker 9-7, fittingly with another sizzling serve out wide, ending a quality match after 2 hours, 43 minutes.
Former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus beat Russia’s Dmitry Tursunov 6-2, 6-4 to also reach the last four.
He next faces eighth seed Nishikori, who became the first Japanese to reach the semi-finals with an inspired performance against 2008 Tokyo winner Berdych.
“I just kept going for broke,” Nishikori said. “I let my mind wander to winning the match in the second set, but luckily I kept my focus and got the result.”