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Murray v Karlovic as it happened

Cincinnati Masters

Men's semi-final latest:

A MURRAY* (GB) v I KARLOVIC (Cro)

6-4 6-4

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By Chris Whyatt

1947: Thanks for your company through that Murray masterclass. He really didn't really have to find fourth, let alone, fifth gear did he? But there is no doubt he'll need everything he's got in his locker if he gets his wish and faces Nadal in the final.

Closing thoughts go to Canadiancharles on 606:

"Great stuff from Andy. I doubt even the most ardent Murray fan thought this match would be this comfortable.

"What is really inpressing me at the moment is the way he digs in now when a game goes against him and breaks back so quickly. A big sign he's matured a lot."

1944: Victorious Murray, wearing one of those ridiculous headsets the players are made to don when interviewed after matches, oozes confidence when asked who he wants to face in the Cincinnati final. Novak Djokovic or Rafa Nadal?

"Nadal. He's the number one in the world now, and I've never beaten him before. I think I can do it."

He continues: "I felt like I was hitting the ball great today. I see his serve pretty well and it comes through to me at quite a nice height. He likes the quick points, but when you can makes a lot of returns it disrupts him."

Murray 6-4 Karlovic
In total control and playing well within himself, Murray successfully serves for the match. Clinical stuff. The Scot is through to his first ever Masters Series final.

Murray 5-4 Karlovic
Karlo's serving is getting better but is it too little too late? Murray, coming in close and hitting everything with aggression, takes it to deuce. Maybe it's his size, but Karlovic looks languid. The Scot earns a break point with a great low return to Ivo's ankles, where he cannot execute the pick-up, and Murray - screaming with joy - wins the point as Karlovic hits another tame groundstroke into the net.

Murray 4-4 Karlovic
Utterly bizarre moment when, with Murray 30-0 up, Karlovic hits a forehand which is going well wide of the tramlines but hits the net cord and flips back on court. Our protagonists then hit dozens more groundstrokes to each other with zero zeal before Ivo limps one into the net. Freaky. Easy hold for Murray though.

Murray 3-4 Karlovic
Karlovic goes wide with a couple of meaty serves but Murray, who was absolutely cruising, battles hard to take it to 40-30. He makes a challenge on a Karlovic ace which secures the game... and is quickly snubbed by Hawk Eye. Murray must work now.

Murray 3-3 Karlovic
Couple of wristy forehands from Karlovic put him 0-30 up then Murray misfires to concede three break-back points. He saves two but on the third, which Murray loses, the Scot claims the ball has split during the rally. The umpire's not having it though. Lapse of concentration there from Murray although Karlovic played his best tennis of the match. Is the tide turning?

Murray 3-2 Karlovic
A rare love service game from Karlovic, as Murray nearly crashes into the crowd after stumbling on the final point. No harm done. Better from the Croat but he must find a way to break Murray if he has any chance of reaching the final.

Murray 3-1 Karlovic
Murray's groundstrokes are utterly dominant and his serve's looking strong. Hint of slight discomfort with his knee but he races through to hold 40-15.

Murray 2-1 Karlovic
At 30-30 Karlovic produces a perfect backhand from the net which wrong-foots the Scot and lands plum on the line, with Murray's appeal in vain. A few British flags flap in the breeze as the Croat takes an easy hold.

Murray 2-0 Karlovic
Murray has really found his groove now while Karlovic is all at sea. The Scot clatters through that service game in minutes displaying real technical superiority.

Murray 1-0 Karlovic
Bit of luck for under-pressure Karlovic as a Murray forehand spins up high as a kite off the net cord allowing the Croat to hammer home a forehand which puts him to 30-15. But Murray produces some baseline magic before unveiling an outlandish dig close to the net to work a (lost) break point.

Then, with more superb tennis, another two break points earned... yet both squandered. Murray then battles back to deuce by lobbing, yes lobbing, Karlovic again. The Scot appears in total contral and is bossing the rallies. Ivo saves seven break points in total... but he cannot save an eighth. Karlovic - who knocked Roger Federer out of this tournament - is clinging on for dear life.

1851: "Do it for Scotland Andy! The English had robotic Henman - the biggest bore in sport since Jonathan Edwards. Scotland have a real sportsman - passionate, aggressive, committed, entertaining." levdavidovich on 606

FIRST SET

Murray 6-4 Karlovic
Around 90 degrees in Ohio as Murray produces an audacious forehand from the baseline, just tickling the tramline, to take him 30-0 up. That aside, a routine hold and Murray takes the set. Did well to keep his cool and recover from that early break.

Murray 5-4 Karlovic
Time stands still as Muzza attempts to lob 6ft 10in Karlo on the first point... deathly silence as the ball floats through the sky... and it lands just in court as the crowd exhales loudly and the Scot pumps his arms in celebration. But Ivo pulls out some big serves to take the game with relative ease, though he's only served two aces so far.

Murray 5-3 Karlovic
More ambitious, aggressive serve volley from Muzza. Races through that one with little resistance from the Croat giant.

Murray 4-3 Karlovic
How low can you go? Murray stoops to scoop a deep, arching forehand out from millimetres above the surface to put himself 0-30 up. Then he powers to the net to give himself three break points... and he takes the game on the second, as Ivo flails a block from an okay-looking passing shot into the net. Karlovic looks half-asleep. Lots of fans in the crowd fanning their sweaty brows with the programme.

Murray 3-3 Karlovic
Murray suggested before the match that Ivo doesn't have the best return game in the world - and he's certainly inconsistent. Murray bosses each rally to expose the Croat's lazy looking strokes from around the baseline. Simple.

Murray 2-3 Karlovic
Low and searching, an exquisite backhand from Karlovic puts him 40-0 up and he takes the game to love. Another easy game for the server. But don't worry - fireworks are just around the corner.

Murray 2-2 Karlovic
Change of strategy from Mr Murray as he starts to serve and volley much more. An easy service game for the Scot, who has clearly woken up now.

Murray 1-2 Karlovic
Murray is dragged all over court by Karlovic but the big Croat, who is yet to find his true serving rhythm, pushes an easy volley too long to give the Scot two break points. And Muzza only needs one to break back as Karlovic slams another simple volley into the net. We're back on serve. The crowd is swelling now.

Murray 0-2 Karlovic
Timely first serve from Murray at 30-40 saves a Karlovic break point, but.... With the advantage then against the Croat, he shows a masterly deft touch to dig out a Murray forehand bringing it back to deuce. Ivo then uses raw power from the baseline to win on the advantage and snap Murray's first service game. It's hot out there.

Murray 0-1 Karlovic
Murray makes a tasty start, taking it to 0-30 with a superb scooped get after Karlovic loops over a lazy drop shot. Some big serving brings the Croatian back level but Muzza earns himself an early break point with another athletic grab from near the net. But Karlovic rides the scare and serves out the game.

1814: We're off - Ivo serves first...

1812: The good news is that the British number one is on his favourite hard court surface and has a 2-0 head-to-head record against the lanky Croatian. And Muzza is coming off the back of another character-building come-from-behind win in the quarter-final against Carlos Moya.

With changes in the rankings afoot - a new era dawns with Rafa Nadal at world number one - Murray could also be on the rise to number six. Interesting times, huh? Wherever you are in the world - and do let me know - please get involved with your thoughts today on 606 and the 81111 texts.

1800: Hello folks. When a fired-up Andy Murray famously rolled up his sleeve to bare his trembling right bicep at Wimbledon a few summer weeks ago, I remember someone describing it as looking like "a grain of rice tied to a piece of spaghetti".

No matter how much the young Scot beefs up, his physical attributes - and his (in)ability to deal with the physicality of his opponents a la Nadal - are often dredged into question.

So today's semi-final in Cincinnati - the furthest he's ever been in this Master Series - against all 6 foot 10 inches of serving man-mountain Ivo Karlovic really is, in every sense, a big test.


see also
Murray into Cincinnati quarters
31 Jul 08 |  Tennis
Cincinnati photos
31 Jul 08 |  Tennis
Federer overcomes Ginepri scare
29 Jul 08 |  Tennis


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