Murray sweeps aside Verdasco

Briton into Miami Masters semi-finals as he avenges Australian Open defeat
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The Independent Online

Murray lost a pulsating five-setter against the Spaniard in the opening Grand Slam of the year in Melbourne – the first time Murray had lost to Verdasco in six meetings. But the Scot regained the upper hand in emphatic style here, taking just 75 minutes to book a last-four meeting with surprise semi-finalist Juan Martin del Potro.

Del Potro defeated world No 1 Rafael Nadal in a gruelling three-setter 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 immediately before Murray's contest, and after the contrasting ease of the Scot's progress he will fancy his chances of reaching the final.

Like he did in the previous round against Viktor Troicki, Murray immediately claimed two breaks of serve to race into a 4-0 lead after just 15 minutes on court. Verdasco responded to the early pressure by throwing caution to the wind, unleashing a couple of heavy winners in Murray's next service game to go 0-40 ahead. Murray then double-faulted to meekly concede one of his breaks and get Verdasco on the scoreboard.

It would prove to be only a blip for Murray, who was not so much squeezing Verdasco into errors as allowing him to make them. The Spaniard was intent on going for his shots and with Murray content to retrieve balls, Verdasco was proving his own worst enemy as he continually missed the lines.

That was none more evident than in his next service game, which he conceded, to hand back the two-break advantage. At deuce, Verdasco went for the corner, only to miss by a foot, and when faced with a break point he could only dump a high smash into the net after Murray had scampered to return a ball he looked unlikely to reach.

Murray took the opening set when again Verdasco made crucial errors at key stages. This time he clumsily hit a backhand into the net to concede the first set in just over half an hour.

Verdasco then conceded his service straight away in the second. He had four chances to break back in the next game, but passed up each chance. Murray's tenacity was then rewarded as he took the game and Verdasco's challenge was over as he lost his next service to go 3-0 down, a position from which he never recovered.

"I played very well," Murray said. "I started very well and he made a couple of mistakes early on. You probably couldn't pick it up on TV but it was quite windy on court and at one end he was missing a lot long and at the other he was finding the net. I could see he was getting annoyed after three or four games. I knew then I just had to play solid and that I would have a good chance."