Lendl's record in sight as Murray cruises to victory

Djokovic stands in way of Scot matching his coach's Australian achievement as Fab Four reach semis


Andy Murray has some way to go before his overall achievements can be mentioned in the same breath as Ivan Lendl's, but the Scot is only one win away from joining his coach on at least one page of the record books. Murray's crushing 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 victory over Japan's Kei Nishikori in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open yesterday put him within touching distance of becoming the first man to reach three successive finals at the year's first Grand Slam event since Lendl in 1989, 1990 and 1991.

There is only one problem: the next obstacle is Novak Djokovic, who destroyed Murray in straight sets in the final 12 months ago. The 24-year-old Serb earned his place in the last four with a 6-4, 7-6, 6-1 victory over David Ferrer to complete the perfect semi-final line-up. Rafael Nadal (world No 2) will take on Roger Federer (No 3) today, before Djokovic (No 1) and Murray (No 4) do battle tomorrow.

The semi-finals provide confirmation of the Fab Four's domination. This is the third time in the last four Grand Slam tournaments that they have all made it to the semi-finals, with Federer's defeat by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last summer the only blemish on their collective record since an injured Nadal was beaten by Ferrer in the quarter-finals here last year. Ferrer, the world No 5, said last night that he did not believe it was possible for other players to close the gap on the big four because they were "at another level".

Murray is putting together a remarkable record of consistency. This will be his fifth consecutive Grand Slam semi-final and his ninth in the last 14 Grand Slam tournaments. The only time he has lost to anyone other than Federer, Nadal or Djokovic in a Grand Slam semi-final or final was when Andy Roddick got the better of him at Wimbledon three years ago.

Nevertheless, Murray has lost all three of his Grand Slam finals without winning a set, his most disappointing effort having been last year's final here. He has beaten Djokovic in four of their last six meetings – and should have won in last year's Rome Masters, when he served for the match – but when it mattered most the Serb swept him aside.

The presence of Lendl in Murray's corner could be a significant difference this time. While Murray insists that it will be months before he feels the full benefit of his help, the 51-year-old having joined his team at the start of the year, his influence is clear. Lendl wants Murray to stay more focused and there has been little sign of the grimacing and shouting in the general direction of his entourage that has often been a feature of Murray's matches in the past.

In his column in The Australian newspaper yesterday, Murray spoke of his admiration for the "brutal" attitude that Lendl took on to the court as a player, and in particular his liking for thumping the ball straight at opponents standing at the net. In a similar incident earlier this week Tomas Berdych refused to shake hands at the end of his victory over Nicolas Almagro, after the Spaniard fired a ball straight at him.

Murray said he got on well with all the top players but stressed: "You put all of that to one side and you go and try to win and do whatever it takes to get that win. If that means hitting them with a passing shot like Almagro did with Berdych, you just have to do whatever you have to do to get the win.

"It's always down to the player. It doesn't matter what anybody says to you on the court, it's up to you whether you take it on board and how you put the things you have been told tactically to find a way of putting them into matches. The coach is there to help you mature and understand certain situations and, for me, pacing my way through Grand Slams and dealing with the pressure that comes at the end of Grand Slams."

Djokovic will not take anything for granted. "Andy looks fit," he said. "He's been playing well. He's definitely very motivated to win his first Grand Slam. He's played in the last two finals here. He's been proving to himself and the rest of the people that the Australian Open is probably his best Grand Slam."

With Lendl watching from the side of the court, Djokovic beat Ferrer with plenty to spare, though the world No 1 occasionally looked in distress. He quickly recovered from what appeared to be a hamstring problem, but admitted that he had had difficulty breathing, something which has troubled him in the past. Nevertheless, he insisted he would be fully fit for the semi-final.

Murray achieved his 10th consecutive victory in hugely impressive fashion, despite having a sore neck which affected his serve. Nishikori had beaten Tsonga in the previous round, but the 22-year-old Japanese was outplayed by Murray from the start and appeared to pay for his earlier physical exertions.

Nishikori may have had the edge on moments of magic – the world No 26 won one point after a spectacular lob played through his legs with his back to the net, while Murray missed the ball completely when going for a through-the-legs running forehand drive – but in most other areas the world No 4 came out on top.

The writing was on the wall as early as the second game, when Murray won an extraordinary 42-shot rally. "Right after I thought, 'I'm going to quit this match,'" Nishikori said, with a smile.

Now Murray has to prepare for a tougher challenge. Would he try to put last year's final out of his mind? "You obviously want to move on from what's happened in the past, but you also need to learn from it," he said. "You need to learn from the experience, take the positives and some of the negatives out of it to try and improve as a player."

people'It can last and it's terrifying'
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering