TENNIS: The stars seem to be aligning for Andy Murray as he furthered his bid for a first-ever grand slam title at Flushing Meadows today.
Having seen off a stern challenge from Marin Cilic, the Scot was the first man to book his spot in the US Open semi-final and would have been forgiven for expecting a tough contest against number-one seed Roger Federer.
But the world number one, who has won the tournament five times, crashed out in a shock 7-6 (1), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 loss to Tomas Berdych.
As a result Murray will face Berdych for a place in the final and with no Federer and no Nadal, the Scot will rarely get a better opportunity to win that elusive first grand slam title, though defending champion Novak Djokovic remains the favourite.
Murray’s semi-final spot was confirmed at the end of a tough contest with Cilic, in which the world number four found himself just a point away from going two sets to love behind.
But after bouncing back to win 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-0, Murray said: “He (Cilic) got nervous. That was the main difference.
“I did start playing better towards the end of the second set. And because I was in it, I started to feel that momentum was with me.”
Murray added: “After that, I was hitting the ball much better and I felt confident at the end of the match.
“I was returning well, serving well, and moved better at the end. It was good to finish like that.”
Prior to Murray’s match emotions were running high at the Arthur Ashe Stadium as the 2003 winner Andy Roddick retired following his loss to Juan Martin del Potro.
In the women’s event former champions Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams both reached the semi-finals, albeit in contrasting fashions.
Third-seed Sharapova, who won the tournament in 2006, had to come from behind to beat 2007 Wimbledon runner-up Marion Bartoli 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 and will face first-seed Victoria Azarenka for a place in the final.
Meanwhile Williams cruised past Ana Ivanovic in straight sets to set up a semi-final with 10th-seeded Sara Errani of Italy, who eliminated her good friend and doubles partner Roberta Vinci, also in straight sets.
Williams, who lost last year’s final to Australia’s Sam Stosur, said: “It’s going to be a good match-up. She [Errani] is such a fighter, she’s so strong and quick.”