Local hero lies in wait as Murray marches on

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Should Murray win, he may get his wish to play Roger Federer, the world No 1 and defending champion. Federer's semi-final opponent is Jarkko Nieminen, of Finland. Federer, incidentally, has won his last 23 finals in a row, an ATP record.

Murray was denied a singles match against Federer in last weekend's Davis Cup match against Switzerland when Britain's captain, Jeremy Bates, selected the Scot to play the Swiss No 2, Stanislas Wawrinka, in the second rubber.

Whatever befalls Murray over the next two days cannot detract from his wonderful week on the indoor concrete courts in Bangkok. Two wins launched him into the world's top 100, and a third, against third seed Robby Ginepri yesterday, put him in the semi-finals and elevated his ranking into the 80s.

Murray recovered from a set down to defeat the 21st-ranked Ginepri, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, a display that prompted the Briton's coach, Mark Petchey, to declare: "Those were the best couple of sets I've seen Andy play in terms of how he served and how he took the ball. He certainly took the game to Robby."

A delighted Murray said: "Winning against two top-50 players in a row is a pretty big deal for me, and to get to my first semi-final is also great. I said I would have to serve better than I did on Thursday if I wanted to win, and I think I served very well. I attacked when I had to, and after the first set played pretty much perfect."

Srichaphan, who defeated Andre Agassi in the second round at Wimbledon in 2002, had a walkover into the semi-finals against the injured Lleyton Hewitt, the Australian second seed.

The 22-year-old Ginepri, who lost to Agassi in the semi-finals at the US Open, was broken in the first game against Murray. After taking a 3-1 lead, however, Murray seemed to lose concentration, and Ginepri fought back to 5-4 and broke to win the set.

Murray matched Ginepri for the first eight games of the second set and broke for 5-4 with a splendid backhand. He held to level the match and frustrated his opponent in the final set. Murray broke to win a lengthy fifth game, and the edgy Ginepri lost his serve again in the ninth game.

It is remarkable to consider that Murray was ranked 397th in the world when he made his ATP Tour debut in Barcelona in April. The youngster from Dunblane's progress earned him the seventh wild card of his rookie season to compete in Bangkok.

"Andy's had some fine wins over the summer," Petchey said. "But, looking at the draw, I didn't expect him to get to the semis at this stage. He continues to impress everybody. And, as I said at Wimbledon, it's going to be two years before you see the best of Andy Murray."

Bates, whose next Davis Cup campaign is due to open with a home tie next April against Serbia and Montenegro or Israel, said: "Andy's rise up the rankings is a big boost to everyone, but most of all for Andy himself. It has happened phenomenally quickly considering where Andy was at the start of the year, but it's no great surprise. The signs were always there that Andy would become a top-class player. He is not going to rest now. He will keep going for it."

Murray's progress has coincided with Tim Henman's injury problems. The British No 1's world ranking has slipped to No 28, and he could be overtaken by No 29 Greg Rusedski.

A recurrence of the 35-year-old Agassi's back problem has caused him to withdraw from next month's Stockholm Open. The sixth-ranked Agassi, who missed Wimbledon, amazed everybody by advancing to the US Open final and forcing Federer to produce his best form.

According to reports in France, a player who reached the second week at Roland Garros in June tested positive for a banned stimulant. The player cannot be named until an independent tribunal investigates.

Comments