Andy Murray through to French Open semi-final with three sets to one win over Kei Nishikori


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ANDY MURRAY reached his fourth French Open semi final in a row – with a little help from the umpire.

Carlos Ramos, who had infuriated Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal by calling them for time violations earlier in the tournament, took a first serve off Murray at a crucial moment when he was already a set down.

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Andy Murray is through to the French Open semi-final with a win over Kei Nishikori

But the world No 1 used it as inspiration, turning the match around and winning 2-6 6-1 7-6 6-1 against an error-ridden Kei Nishikori to set up a repeat of last year’s semi-final clash with Stan Wawrinka.

Brad Gilbert, one of Murray’s former coaches, wrote a book called “Winning Ugly” about his approach to beating players with more ability than him.

And this was the perfect example, as the Scot endured highs and lows but got the job done quite comfortably in the end.

It was a superb performance from the British number one

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It was a superb performance from the British number one

But it was Nishikori who took the early initiative.

Although it was a double fault which gave the Japanese the first break, in the game in which Ramos first pulled Murray up on his timekeeping, he was all over his opponent from the off.

Nishikori was dominating the rallies, taking the ball early and driving Murray well behind his baseline from where he would either make errors or be vulnerable to the dropshot.

Murray’s own shots seemed to lack power and depth and he conceded the opening set limply in just 34 minutes.

Japanese star Kei Nishikori won the opening set

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Japanese star Kei Nishikori won the opening set

But Ramos’ intervention in the third game of the second seemed to give Murray the spark he needed.
Having lost his first serve, he won the point anyway and yelled: “Let’s go.” And when he clinched the game, he screamed: “Come on.”

Suddenly it was Nishikori being passive and he gave up his serve with a double fault in the very next game.

And when Murray gave him the chance to break back immediately, twice Nishikori missed badly to let him off the hook.

The world No 1 capitalised on his opponent’s dramatic drop in performance and levelled the match.
But Murray did not take full advantage of the change in momentum.

The Scottish player has never won the French open


The Scottish player has never won the French open

Nishikori continued to miss a lot and one overhit ball cost him a break of serve.

But in the very next game, Murray himself mucked up a straightforward volley to offer up two break points and lost the second when he sent a forehand wide

These were big moments for the match, you felt, and it seemed Murray had risen to the challenge.

After holding to love to save the set and level it at 5-5, he broke Nishikori in the next game but could not serve it out and a crucial tiebreak beckoned.

But Nishikori totally fluffed it, giving Murray the first six points with five errors and a double fault.

Murray's wife Kim cheers on her husband to victory

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Murray’s wife Kim cheers on her husband to victory

Having moved ahead, the Scot promptly lost his serve then immediately broke back thanks to some more mistakes by Nishikori.

And a crazy point in the fourth game went Murray’s way to move him ahead and in sight of victory.
Nishikori looked like a beaten man, and soon he was.

Murray also changed tactics in the second set, trying to play more aggressively after Nishikori had controlled the first.

Britain's Andy Murray celebrates winning his quarter final match

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Britain’s Andy Murray celebrates winning his quarter final match

Murray said: “I needed to start putting a little bit more pace on my shots.

“He was dictating all of the points in the first set.

“Once I started to get into a better rhythm, I was able to keep him a bit further away from the baseline and that made a big difference.”

The Scot will have to raise his level again, though, against Wawrinka, who beat Marin Cilic in straight sets.

Andy Murray talks high expectations over the summer and Novak Djokovic

Murray said: “He’s played fantastic this tournament so far.

“Last year I had to play one of my best mathces on clay to win.

“I know it will be very tough but I will fight as hard as I can and hopefully play some good tennis and make it a tough battle.

“I’m very happy to be in the semi finals. It’s not always been easy for me here, but these last few years have been great.”

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