Indian Wells: Andy Murray set a record for Open Era wins by a British man with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Feliciano Lopez to reach the Indian Wells ATP Masters semi-finals on Thursday.
Fourth seed Murray booked a showdown with defending champion Novak Djokovic, who won his match in a walkover when Bernard Tomic withdrew from their scheduled quarter-final in the WTA and ATP hardcourt tournament. Murray now has 497 match wins, surpassing Tim Henman for the most in the Open Era by a British player.
Andy Murray. Pic/ AFP
The 27-year-old Scot continued his domination over the Spanish lefthander Lopez, having won all 10 career matches between the two. "His game style I think matches up quite well against mine," said Murray, now just three wins shy of the 500-win milestone.
"I don't have as much trouble with the lefties. "I was able to deal with his difficult spins today, but it was tough because he fought right to the end." Murray blasted four aces and won over 70 percent of his first and second serve points in the one hour, 32 minute match. Lopez came into the match leading the tournament in aces with 46 in three matches. But the 12th seeded Spaniard managed just five against Murray on Thursday.
Murray ended his historic 2013 -- where he became the first British man to win Wimbledon in 77 years -- when he had back surgery. The rehab took time and he was not the same player in 2014. But Murray began to get back into form at the end of last year and is now eager to win his first Indian Wells title this week.
His best finish is a runner-up in 2009, when he lost to Rafael Nadal in the final. He was also runner up at January's Australian Open and lost in the quarter-finals this year in Dubai and Rotterdam. World number one Djokovic advanced to the semis without lifting his racquet after a bad back and painful wisdom tooth forced Tomic to pull out.
Australia's Tomic made his decision to withdraw several hours before his match was to open the evening session, allowing Djokovic a free pass. Tomic hopes to get the tooth taken care of in Miami where another prestigious hardcourt tournament starts next week.
- Double whammy for Tomic -
"I'm on medication the last few days for the infected area, my wisdom tooth," he said. "I'm scared to run on the back, as well. "Maybe if one of those things wasn't there I could have played, but having two is not good." Tomic said his status for the Miami tournament is up in the air. "I'd like to play it, but if there is an opportunity to get that wisdom tooth out before Miami, I probably won't play in Miami. But it will come down to next few days before I decide," he said.
Djokovic will get an extra day's rest before he faces Murray. He leads their career contests 16-8. But Murray has had some of his biggest career wins against Djokovic and is playing with plenty of confidence right now.
"Until last year our head to head was pretty close," Murray said. "You know, last year was a tough year for me, especially the first six, seven months. "He's played extremely well here in the past. He will be totally fresh as well and ready for the semis. "But I feel like I played well this week and if I can keep that level up and for a sustained period on Saturday, I'll have a chance."
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