Andy Murray progresses at Shanghai Masters

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The Independent Online

Andy Murray moved a step closer to winning a third successive tournament as he booked his place in the semi-finals of the Shanghai Masters with a routine win over Matthew Ebden.

The world number four, who was triumphant in Thailand a fortnight ago and Tokyo last week, was rarely troubled as he cruised through his first meeting with the Australian, winning 6-3 6-2 in an hour and 24 minutes.

Murray will now play Japan's Kei Nishikori in tomorrow's last-four encounter - another player he has never faced before.

And, with a somewhat weakened field remaining after the exits of Rafael Nadal and Andy Roddick - David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez will contest the other semi-final - Murray will fancy his chances of lifting a 21st career title come Sunday.

The Scot has been in serene form of late - this was his 13th win in a row - and it was rarely in doubt.

Ebden, a qualifier from Perth, was durable in the opening exchanges, saving four break points in the fifth game, but could get nowhere near Murray's serve himself.

Murray got the first break of the match in the seventh game, a forehand winner cashing in his fifth break point, and after holding himself, he earned two set points in the next game and took the second of them when Ebden hit long.

He held to love at the start of the second second and then hit a stunning forehand winner from well off the court to break to 2-0, before Ebden got on the board at 3-1, the world number 124 scrapping hard to stay in the match as he saw off another break point.

Murray was comfortable on serve, though, and when he did offer a chance - a break point in the seventh game - an ace eased him out of trouble and he broke again to win the match in the eighth game, working the centre of the court before pinning a winner to the sideline to secure a 52nd victory of the year.