Andy Murray's autumn bandwagon showed no sign of slowing down yesterday as the 24-year-old Scot beat David Nalbandian 6-4, 7-5 to earn a meeting with David Ferrer in today's semi-finals of the Japan Open. Murray is on course for a showdown in tomorrow's final with Rafael Nadal, who is the only player to have got the better of him in his last 20 matches. Nadal, a 7-6, 6-3 winner over Santiago Giraldo, meets Mardy Fish in today's other semi-final.
Murray, who won the title in Bangkok on Sunday, was playing his seventh singles match in nine days. He has also played two doubles matches so far this week and partners his brother, Jamie, against Robin Haase and Viktor Troicki in today's semi-finals.
"I need a massage and a good night's sleep," the world No 4 said after disposing of Nalbandian in an hour and 39 minutes. "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."
Murray and Nadal move on to the Shanghai Masters next week, but Novak Djokovic will not be joining them there. The world No 1 yesterday withdrew from the tournament, saying he was still suffering from the back injury he sustained in winning last month's US Open. "I did another check this week and the results are not good," Djokovic said. "I need to continue my rehabilitation."
Caroline Wozniacki, the top seed and defending champion, lost 3-6, 6-0, 7-6 to Italy's Flavia Pennetta in the quarter-finals of the China Open. Meanwhile one of Wozniacki's predecessors as world No 1, Dinara Safina, has retired from the sport because of back problems according to her brother, Marat Safin.