Murray made to work hard to see off Tipsarevic

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Andy Murray remains on course to win a fifth title of the year after overcoming a spirited challenge from Janko Tipsarevic at the St Petersburg Open. Tipsarevic had won two of his three previous matches against Murray – in the first round at Queen's Club in 2006 and then in Moscow last year – and he threatened another upset against the world number four, but Murray dug deep for a 7-6, 7-5 victory to reach the semi-finals.

Defending champion Murray will face Spain's Fernando Verdasco today for a place in tomorrow's final, as he looks to follow up last week's triumph at the Madrid Masters.

Murray also landed the Masters Series title in Cincinnati this summer, and won in Doha and Marseilles earlier in the year. His greatest achievement came in reaching the final of the US Open though, and given the 21-year-old Scot's recent form, there were few who gave Tipsarevic much hope. However, the 24-year-old put together an impressive performance.

Murray began positively, with two aces in the opening game, and broke in the next before holding to lead 3-0. Tipsarevic took the fourth game, which triggered a burst of fine tennis by the Serb. Murray scraped through a tough fifth game on his own serve but was broken soon afterwards, and Tipsarevic was looking increasingly comfortable, soon making it 4-4. The pair went into a tie-break in which Murray raced ahead before being pegged back. At 5-5 in the tie-break, the top seed made his decisive move by claiming a mini-break and winning the next point on serve.

Murray broke to lead 2-1 in the second set thanks to a cross-court backhand, but Tipsarevic hit back straight away with another break. When Tipsarevic held to lead 4-3, Murray booted a ball into the stand in a show of his frustration. At 5-5, and just when Tipsarevic was looking a good bet to level, Murray broke serve and held with some ease to clinch victory.

Verdasco, the world number 16, defeated unseeded German Rainer Schüttler, 7-5, 6-2 in an earlier match on centre court.