Murray hits heights to oust Federer

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The Independent Online

Andy Murray eliminated defending champion Roger Federer from the season-ending Masters Cup today after recording a thrilling 4-6 7-6 (7/3) 7-5 win in Shanghai.

Needing a win to join Murray in the semi-finals, Federer edged a tight first set, but despite letting slip a two-break advantage in the second, Murray deservedly claimed the tie-break.

And in the decider, with Federer struggling with the back injury which forced him to withdraw from the Paris Masters, Murray maintained a 100 per cent start to his maiden Masters Cup appearance by claiming a tense third set and the win in just over three scintillating hours.

Murray had let slip seven match points at 5-4 on the Federer serve but needed just one more, two games later, to set up a semi-final with Russian world number five Nikolay Davydenko after topping the red group.

Earlier, Frenchman Gilles Simon beat Radek Stepanek 6-1 6-4 but needed Murray's win to advance to a last-four showdown with gold group winner Novak Djokovic.

After recording wins over Andy Roddick and Simon in the round-robin stage, the in-form British number one was already assured of a place in the semi-finals, but an ailing Federer knew he had to win following his opening-day defeat by the Frenchman.

US Open champion Federer was restricted by his back injury in the defeat by Simon, while he was suffering from a stomach upset as he kept his tournament alive by beating Stepanek.

Since his defeat by Federer in the US Open final, 21-year-old Murray had only lost once in his last 17 matches including a win over the former world number one on his way to a second Masters Series shield in Madrid in October.

With the crowd knowing defeat would send the four-time Masters Cup champion home, they we certainly behind the Swiss and were delighted as Murray sent a forehand long at 0-40 to hand Federer an early break and a 3-1 lead.

But world number four Murray hit straight back as he rallied from 30-0 down to convert a second break point as Federer sent a backhand into the net following a long baseline rally.

After a hard-fought hold from Federer, Murray battled to stave off two more break points, but with the set on the line in game 10, he duffed an attempted drop shot to hand Federer the opening set.

Murray responded instantly as he raced to a 15-40 lead and claimed the early break as Federer sent a forehand long.

Federer needed an ace in game five to avoid another break after dumping a backhand volley into the net, but eventually held to cut Murray's lead to 3-2 after the Scot pulled a forehand wide.

Murray claimed a two-break advantage as Federer twice double-faulted in the next service game, but he let slip two set points as Federer rallied to break back at the second time of asking as Murray sent a looping lob into the tramlines with his opponent in at the net.

Serving for the set after a Federer hold, Murray fell 0-40 behind, and despite a change of racquet helping him back to deuce, a double fault at break point saw Federer level at 5-5.

A string of errors from Murray handed Federer an easy service game, but Murray finally held a service game to earn a tie-break.

Murray grabbed a mini-break at 3-1 as Federer sent a wayward looping forehand long, but after edging a mammoth rally Federer levelled at 3-3 with a break of his own.

Murray regained the advantage at 5-3 as Federer speared a crosscourt forehand long before extending it with a double mini-break after rushing the net to deposit a backhand volley out of his opponent's reach.

And with the game clock reading one hour and 43 minutes, Murray earned a decider after taking the second set 7-6 (7-3)

Federer required a medical time out before the start of the third set to treat his back, but it did not help as Murray again grabbed an early break as Federer dumped the ball into the net to hand Murray a 2-0 lead after recovering from 30-15 down.

Between ball changes Federer took the time to rest on the judge's chair and after Murray survived a break back chance, he again needed treatment.

But with his title appearing to be slipping away he found enough to break back to 3-2 after Murray netted a forehand and Federer lashed a winner down the line.

After holding, Federer's resurgence continued as he hammered a service return down the line to earn a break chance before taking a 4-3 lead as Murray netted.

Federer fought off two break points in the next game, but Murray persisted and levelled at 4-4 as his opponent sent an overhead sailing long with most of the court to aim for.

After back-to-back breaks Murray finally held to move 5-4 and had seven match points on the Federer serve but the Swiss dug deep to hold.

Murray held to again put the pressure on Federer, but this time the Scot converted the first of two match points as Federer sent a forehand long as the clock ticked over three hours.

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