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Murray sets up Federer semi-final

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Murray eyes Indian Wells final

Andy Murray set up a semi-final clash against Roger Federer at Indian Wells with a battling 7-5 7-6 (8-6) win over Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic.

The Briton began well when he broke in the first game and, even though he was broken back in the sixth, responded in the 11th to win the set.

The players again exchanged breaks in the next set but Murray held his nerve in the breaker to seal the win.

Federer beat Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-3 7-6 to reach the last four.

The Swiss world number two, playing his first tournament since losing a five-set final to Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open, eased through the first set and looked to be cruising when he took a 4-1 lead in the second.

But the four break points he saved in the third game was an indicator of trouble to come and Verdasco finally capitalised on his chances against Federer's serve, breaking him twice to take a 6-5 lead.

However, the former world number one recovered to take the tie-break to set up a match against Murray on Saturday.

We know each others' games pretty well. If I want to beat him, I need to play one of my best matches

Murray on Federer
Federer, 27, has lost to Britain's number one five times in seven meetings, including their last three matches, and he admits he is unsure how to counter the Scot.

"He's a great player and great players are tough to play against," he said. "He's young, so you still have to figure him out a little bit. He's changing his game as time goes by. Every time you play him, he plays a bit different.

"Whereas for me, it's different. He knows what to expect. That's the advantage of a youngster. There are disadvantages in that they're a bit more inconsistent but he's been very consistent, at a young age, which is impressive to see."

And Murray, despite only recently recovering from a virus, insists he will go into the semi-final in confident mood, saying: "We know each others' games pretty well. If I want to beat him, I need to play one of my best matches.

"It's important to serve solid, make a lot of balls and not feel like you have to do anything special on each point to win against him."

The 21-year-old might hope for better conditions than he endured during his quarter-final against Ljubicic, though, the wind hampering both players' performances ensuring the match was hardly a hardcourt classic.

It seemed that Murray, who only played 50 minutes of the last round before opponent Tommy Robredo retired injured, would walk the match against Ljubicic, who had taken part in a three-hour marathon against Igor Andreev the previous day.

606: DEBATE
And things began well for the British number one, who went 2-0 up after having broken the Croat in the first game.

Ljubicic broke back in the sixth when Murray played one of many poorly judged drop-shots into the net.

But Murray broke the 30-year-old again in the 11th and held serve to take the first set 7-5.

It was all mundane stuff in the second set until the ninth game when at deuce, Murray called a shot in and challenged the umpire who had called the shot out.

The Hawk-Eye replay backed Murray to the anger of Ljubicic. The Croat went on lose his service game.

"The reason I challenged was because he looked like he was going to hit it; then the call came, and he still hit the ball over," Murray said.

"I thought maybe he thought it was going out. But I couldn't see, because of the ATP sign at the side of the court."

However, the Croat settled himself and broke Murray's serve in the next.

But in the tie-break, the Scot came out on top with a Ljubicic unforced error from the baseline giving him the victory.

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see also
Murray v Robredo as it happened
18 Mar 09 |  Tennis
Indian Wells photos
18 Mar 09 |  Tennis
Nadal & Djokovic stay on course
18 Mar 09 |  Tennis
Nadal hits form in Indian Wells
16 Mar 09 |  Tennis
Murray returns with doubles win
13 Mar 09 |  Tennis


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