MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Andy Murray continued Britain’s Australian Open success when he overcame David Ferrer 6-3 6-7(5) 6-2 6-3 in a gruelling tussle to reach the semi-finals for the sixth time in seven years on Wednesday.
The world number two was forced to scrap for almost every point but finally subdued the indefatigable Spanish eighth seed after three hours and 20 minutes of punishing baseline tennis on Rod Laver Arena.
With compatriot Johanna Konta having reached the last four in the women’s draw earlier on Wednesday, Britain has two representatives in the semi-finals of a grand slam for the first time since 1977.
Murray’s brother Jamie has also reached the last four of the men’s doubles with Brazilian Bruno Soares.
“Johanna Konta has done unbelievable,” said the younger Murray. “It’s very exciting to have a British woman in the latter stages of a slam, that’s not happened for a long, long time.
“And I’m very proud of Jamie of course.”
Murray will next face Milos Raonic or Gael Monfils as he bids to reach a fifth Australian Open final.
The 28-year-old has lost on all four of his previous visits to the Melbourne Park final but will certainly be battle-hardened for his assault on the title this year.
“That was a pretty brutal match,” he said. “It was pretty physical and I held up pretty good I think.”
If, as some believe, a resurgence of serve-volley is on its way in the men’s game, Ferrer is unlikely to be in the vanguard.
The 33-year-old Spaniard is difficult to wear down and he scuttled along the back of the court firing returns from all angles.
Lapses of concentration cost him dear, however, and he was 40-0 up in the fourth game of the contest when a string of unforced errors allowed Murray to clinch the break that won him the set.
Ferrer evened up the contest after a thrilling tiebreak featuring rallies of 27 and 31 shots that brought an end to an absorbing 71-minute second set.
Murray grabbed a break for 3-1 in the third and, with a storm approaching, play was immediately suspended so the roof over the court could be closed.
Ferrer’s protested that there was no rain and was right to be concerned as he was always chasing the match thereafter, his groundstrokes losing some of their venom in the new conditions.
“I like playing indoors,” said Murray. “I grew up in Scotland and the weather is not as good as here so I grew up playing most of my tennis indoors.”
Murray grabbed another break for 4-2 in the fourth set and, appropriately for such an intense match, it was errors from Ferrer’s racket rather than winners from the Scot’s that gave him victory.
“It was a good match. It was a lot of rallies. It was tough,” said Ferrer.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Melbourne; editing by Amlan Chakraborty and Pritha Sarkar)