Andy Murray stormed into the final of the US Open last night after a commanding four-set victory over Tomas Berdych. It will be the Scot's fifth Grand Slam final, a fact not lost on his coach, Ivan Lendl, beaten in his first four Grand Slam trophy matches, before going on to win eight.
Murray, the 25-year-old Olympic champion, will play either Novak Djokovic or David Ferrer on Monday after their semi-final was delayed by bad weather. Thousands of fans were evacuated from the stadium last night by police as severe gales swept across New York.
Murray had gone into his semi-final as the favourite. But the big-hitting Czech had won four of their six previous matches and had also blasted past Roger Federer in the quarter-finals.
Murray had said he was pleased to be back on the Arthur Ashe court after struggles against Feliciano Lopez and Marin Cilic in earlier rounds.
Play was delayed for an hour and a quarter by a storm and, although the rain cleared, strong winds made playing conditions difficult. The blustery weather played a crucial role in the early stages of the contest; the forecast was so bad that the women's final, scheduled for last night, had already been postponed. Murray thought he had saved a break point in one game, but Berdych protested that he had been distracted by his opponent's hat blowing off. After a heated exchange between the two men and the umpire, Pascal Maria, the point was replayed. The Czech broke back to 2-2.
Holding serve in the fierce wind proved a problem for both players and Murray was at times furious with himself that he did not put more pressure on his opponent.
The match had already been going for an hour and 20 minutes when they began the second set. At one point, as Murray threw the ball up to serve, a gust of wind blew his chair and racquet bag across the court.
Berdych laughed at the impossibility of playing tennis in such conditions, but Murray duly wrapped up that set 6-2.
Murray began the third set as he had the second, with a break of serve, as Berdych shot an exasperated look towards his supporters.
Murray's greater variety of shots and tactical skill suited the conditions much better than the Czech's raw power, and another break for 3-0 gave him a firm hold on the match for a while; and, mentally, Berdych seemed to go walkabout. Although he saved four set points at 1-5, a fifth arrived which he hit forehand and long.
The Czech player took Murray to the wire in the fourth and final set, but the Scot came from behind, in a tense tie-breaker, to triumph.