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Murray swings into fifth straight semi

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Originally published on: 25/01/12 09:32

For a man who woke up with a stiff neck, Andy Murray’s 6-3 6-3 6-1 victory over Kei Nishikori certainly looked good on paper.  

As it turned out, the two hours and 12 minutes he spent on court weren’t the prettiest of his career but, even in spite of some rocky figures, the Scot marches on to his fifth consecutive Grand Slam semi-final.

“I could have served better, that’s for sure,” admitted the 24-year-old, who found the mark with just 44 per cent of his first serves. 

“I’ll need to serve better in the next match. I had a sore neck today when I woke up and I wasn’t feeling all my serve. But I was returning well, hitting the ball clean from the back of the court, moved forward well.” 

Most encouraging for the three-time Grand Slam finalist is that he has hardly been stretched ahead of the crunch stage of the tournament.

Not since his opening match in Melbourne has Murray dropped a set – against plucky teenager Ryan Harrison – and since then he has found the going fairly straightforward, dropping nine games against Edouard Roger-Vasselin, six against Michael Llodra and just two against Kukushkin before his victory over Nishikori.  

“I mean, I haven’t played over two hours really for the last few matches,” noted Murray. “I feel fresh. Hopefully that will be to my advantage going into the weekend. I have to play a lot of long rallies, for sure, against the guys that are still left in the tournament. So I’ll need my legs to be fresh for the next few matches.“

After semi-finals runs at the French, Wimbledon and US Open since his charge to the Melbourne final this time last year, Murray admits he is more accustomed to the situation of being in the final four come the latter stages of a Grand Slam – a factor that has given rise to the opinion he appears more relaxed in his latest tilt for a maiden Grand Slam title.

“[I] probably definitely have more experience than I had at this point last year because I played deep in the slams the last five or six of them,” he reasons. “[I’m] not necessarily more relaxed, just more used to being in this position because of the experience.”

With a likely opportunity to take revenge on Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals following a shattering defeat to the Serb in the 2011 final, Murray says he won’t shy away from the challenge. 

“I’ve always liked playing against him,” he said of the four-time Grand Slam champion. “After the year that he had, the loss didn’t look so bad six months later. But I’d like to get the chance to play him again. It would be a good marker to see how I’ve improved since last year. We’ll have to wait and see if he gets through.”

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