Andy Murray's impressive late-season form continued in Tokyo today as he brushed past David Nalbandian to make the last four of the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships.
The world number four, who has a realistic chance of robbing Roger Federer of third spot before the season is out, finally prevailed in a second-set see-saw of breaks to win 6-4 7-5 in an hour and 40 minutes.
The Scot will now meet Spain's David Ferrer in the last four as he bids to win back-to-back tournaments following his success in Thailand.
It was his 10th success in a row and he has lost just once in 22 matches and demonstrated just why here as he saw off the former world number three.
After an even start which saw serve held for the first four games, Murray broke thanks largely to a lob and volley combination, setting up a break point that Nalbandian validated with a double fault.
He cemented the break to love and then forced Nalbandian to hit long and wide to see out the first set.
The second started in a similar fashion, with serve prevailing until the seventh game when Nalbandian netted as he attempted to save three break points, only to rob Murray's serve off him in the next game.
Some aggressive baseline hitting helped Murray make it three breaks in a row and set up a chance to serve for the match, but a loss of concentration allowed the Argentine to continue a remarkable run of games and break back to 5-5.
Four straight games became five as Nalbandian hit a forehand long, and Murray did not miss a third chance to see out the match, serving out for the win.
"I played well," Murray said of his performance on atpworldtour.com afterwards.
"I served very well for the most part. He is one of the best returners in the game, so I didn't give him too many opportunities. At the end he started to come at me a little bit and I made a few mistakes and I got a little bit tentative.
"I served for the match a couple of times and let it slip, but I broke back immediately. So I was pleased with that."