Federer sinks Murray to set up Nadal clash
Originally published on 22/01/14
Federer, who was at his best as he swept past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the fourth round, started in a similar vein as he grabbed a two-set lead. Murray, playing in only his second tournament after recovering from back surgery, battled hard and saved two match points in the third set tie-break after breaking back at 5-4 as Federer served for the match.
He survived a gruelling first service game early in the fourth set, but could not prevent the 17-time Grand Slam champion from sealing his place in the last four with a 6-3 6-4 6-7(6) 6-3 victory.
“That’s the highest level I’ve played at in a long time,” Murray said. “My serve slowed down a bit in the fourth set, but I hung in well. I pushed through it. I almost got myself back in the match. I was proud of the way I fought.
“I’ve come a long way in four months. Obviously right now I’m very disappointed. There’s a few things I would have done differently if I was ever to have surgery again possibly. But it’s the first time I ever went through something like that. I thought I did a good job getting myself in good shape to be competitive.”
Murray will now turn his attentions to preparing for Great Britain’s Davis Cup tie against USA on the clay in San Diego.
“It’s not perfect for rehabbing a back surgery,” Murray said of the change of surface. “Ideally I’d like to stay on the same surface.”
Nadal, who remains on course for a second Australian Open title, also needed four sets to navigate his way past Grigor Dimitrov 3-6 7-6(3) 7-6(7) 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena.
Playing in his first Grand Slam quarter-final, Dimitrov showed no signs of nerves as he started brightly, claiming the opening set in a shade over half an hour. He had the chance to take the lead once again but squandered set point in the third-set tiebreak as Nadal, who appeared to struggle with a blister on his left hand, came through to win after three hours and 37 minutes.
"What can I say? It hurts," said an emotional Dimitrov. "You know, I'm happy that I took the decision. Once you take a decision, never look back. Same thing in life: you make mistakes, you make mistakes. It's in the past."
"I was so lucky. I had especially one set point, he missed a forehand,an easy one,” Nadal admitted. “I felt that anything could happen."