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Andy Murray overcomes 64 unforced errors to reach his sixth Australian Open semi-final.

Murray In Familiar Territory

No. 2 seed outlasts Ferrer; into sixth Australian Open semi

It’s become a habit of sorts. For the sixth time in seven years, Andy Murray is headed into the semi-finals of the Australian Open. The No. 2-seeded Scotsman once again ensured his place among the final four in Melbourne with a 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-3 defeat of No. 8 seed David Ferrer of Spain.

Murray has now prevailed in his past six match-ups with the Spaniard, while upping his overall FedEx ATP Head2Head advantage to 13-6. He awaits Milos Raonic on Friday.

“It was a pretty brutal match,” said Murray, who out-aced his opponent 11-0 and made good on six of 13 break points. “The start of the match wasn’t so good — a lot of unforced errors. But in the middle of the second set and the third set we both started to play long points. It was pretty physical. I held up pretty good, I think.”

Coming into Wednesday’s quarter-final, Ferrer led his ATP World Tour brethren in two key categories at the 2016 Aussie Open: second serve points won (69%) and service games won (97%). He was the only quarter-finalist to advance without dropping a set. But that streak came to an end against Murray. Serving at 1-2, 40/0 in the first set, Ferrer coughed up five straight unforced errors to hand the break to his 28-year-old opponent, who went on to close out the stanza in 45 minutes.

Ferrer, aiming for his third semi-final in Melbourne, fought back in the second, charging out to a 3-0 lead. But with the 33 year old serving at 4-2, 15/40, Murray would bring the set back on serve. A timely ace, his sixth of the match, helped Murray save a set point serving at 4-5, 30/40, but he couldn’t hold off Ferrer in the tie-break.

Murray highlights courtesy AusOpen.com

Murray had just broken for 3-1 in the third set when play was suspended due to oncoming rain. Once the retractable roof was closed atop Rod Laver Arena, the Amelie Mauresmo-coached baseliner consolidated for 4-1 and was soon in possession of a two-sets-to-one advantage. 

The otherwise tireless Ferrer began to show signs of fatigue in the fourth set, a loose forehand error at 2-3, 30/40 — one of 54 unforced errors for the Spaniard on the day — handing the four-time runner-up Murray a key break in the three-hour, 20-minute contest.

"When the roof closed, I was obviously up a break in the third and was feeling good," said Murray. "That first game after the delay was very important. I saved a couple of break points, but then actually played a good game. So it was nice to get through that game. Then I felt like started to play better as the match went on.

"I think today was probably the best match I played, especially in the second and third set. I started hitting the ball better from the back of the court. Start of the tournament was good. Obviously last few days have been tough and maybe hadn't played my best tennis and managed to get through." 

Murray and brother Jamie are the first brothers in the Open Era to reach the semi-finals in both the men’s singles and men’s doubles events at the Australian Open. Jamie Murray/Bruno Soares will play Adrian Mannarino/Lucas Pouille in the next round.

Into his 18th Grand Slam semi-final, Murray extended his record for the most Slam semis by a British man ahead of Fred Perry (13). He is looking to become the first man in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam title after losing four finals at any one Grand Slam.

"It was a good match. It was a lot of rallies. It was tough," said Ferrer. "In the third set, the first games, it was tough but it was close. He was better than me playing very aggressive with his backhand. But anyway, I made him serve to win the match. I'm happy with my tournament, my game."