Murray on course to usurp Federer


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The Independent Online

Andy Murray took another step towards overtaking Roger Federer in the world rankings when he reached his second successive final at the Japan Open yesterday. The 24-year-old Scot, who is aiming to replace Federer as world No 3 by the end of the year, earned a meeting in Tokyo today with Rafael Nadal – the only player who has got the better of him in his last 21 matches – by beating David Ferrer 6-2, 6-3.

Murray, who has dropped only two sets in his last 10 matches, was much too good for Ferrer, completing victory in just 81 minutes. "I played smart and was hitting the ball very clean from the back of the court," Murray said. "It should be a great final against Rafa. He's always tough."

Victory today and a successful defence of his Shanghai Masters title this week would see Murray knock Federer out of the top three in the world rankings, where the Swiss has been since 2003. Like the injured Novak Djokovic, Federer is not playing in Shanghai, leaving Nadal and Murray as the top two seeds. Nadal, who beat Mardy Fish 7-5, 6-1 yesterday, has beaten Murray in all five of their meetings in the past 12 months, most recently at last month's US Open.

Murray's winning touch stayed with him as he and brother Jamie claimed a 6-3, 1-6, 10-6 victory over Robin Haase and Viktor Troicki to set up a doubles final with Czech Republic's Frantisek Cermak and Slovakia's Filip Polasek.

Another Czech, Tomas Berdych, beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 to reach today's China Open final in Beijing. He will play Croatia's Marin Cilic, who beat Ivan Ljubicic, 6-4, 6-3. Germany's Andrea Petkovic will meet Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska in the women's final.