Murray roars on

Supercharged Scot celebrates stunning assault on the world rankings by reaching his first senior Tour final where Federer awaits
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The Independent Online

The unlikely icing of a win against the world No 1, Roger Federer, in today's final would only serve to underline the sensational progress over the last four months of the 18-year-old from Dunblane. Ranked 411 at the start of the year, he will move significantly closer to the leading 50 in tomorrow's updated standings.

"To play against Federer, the best player in the world and one of the greatest ever in your first ATP final, when I'm only 18, is a dream come true," Murray said. "I've just got to go out there and try to concentrate at the start and really go for it. But I feel I deserve to be in the final. I've beaten three seeded players. I always knew that I was in good shape. It was good to see Paradorn getting tired, it showed I was making him do more running."

The past few days on the indoor hard court of the Impact Arena has been the catalyst in Murray's magical story. A week ago, in the wake of Britain's Davis Cup defeat by Switzerland in Geneva, Murray was looking forward to accepting the Bangkok wild card offered him at the last moment but stressing that between now and the end of the year he would be concentrating on second-tier Challenger events in North America and Europe to try to push his ranking inside the top 100.

All that is now history. Murray's projected ranking is now 70 and his sights have been raised to the level where he will try to qualify for the last two Masters Series events of the year, in Madrid in a fortnight's time and Paris next month.

If he gets into either, or both, who knows what damage he might inflict with his potent mix of big serving, pinpoint ground strokes, patient rallying, acute judgement of length and angles and a mix of the laid-back and the raging bull which are unsettling more experienced opposition?

After eliminating the No 5 and No 3 seeds, Robin Soderling and Robby Ginepri, ranked 41 and 21 respectively, Murray's dismissal of Srichaphan amounted to his best-ever performance. Despite a poor year in which his ranking has slid from 26 to 57, Srichaphan is by some distance Thailand's favourite sportsman: Federer, David Beckham and Andrew Flintoff rolled into one to his adoring fans. For them, nothing other than a final appearance against Federer, who beat Finland's Jarkko Niemenen 6-3 6-4 in the other semi-final, would suffice.

Things looked good early on, as the Thai broke for a 2-0 lead. Murray quietened the excitement by capturing Srichaphan's serve immediately, but when the opening set reached the tie-break stage the Scot suffered his only poor spell of the match, losing it by seven points to three.

Murray struggled to hold serve in the second set, but he was merely pacing himself, it seemed, as he suddenly roused himself at 6-5 to break Srichaphan to love. With Murray leading on serve at 3-2 in the deciding set, Srichaphan needed treatment to his thigh. The Scot needed no further incentive, sweeping the next three games for his best-ever win, more impressive even than the demolition of the 14th-seeded Radek Stepanek in the second round of Wimbledon.

Should Murray overturn Federer, who has won 30 straight matches, it would complete the finest tournament for a wild card since Goran Ivanisevic won Wimbledon in 2001. At this rate, Murray's irresistible rise in the rankings will see him soon pass Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski, which will come as no surprise to John McEnroe. He it was who said three months ago that within a year Murray would be inside the top 20.