Andy Murray moved into the semi-finals of the Australian Open today – and set up a possible clash with Rafael Nadal – after beating Alexandr Dolgopolov in four sets.
The British number one, who was the last man to beat Nadal at a grand slam event after seeing him off in the quarter-finals in Melbourne last year, looked a touch vulnerable when he dropped his first set of the tournament but found another gear when it mattered to come through 7-5 6-3 6-7 (3/7) 6-3 in three hours and six minutes.
He will meet Nadal, who is hoping to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four major titles simultaneously, if the Spaniard can overcome compatriot David Ferrer.
Murray will have to up his level considerably if he is to prevail against the top seed after a display against Dolgopolov which was inconsistent at best.
“It was very tough,” Murray said afterwards. “Every point against him is different, he hits the ball differently to everyone else, it’s tough to explain.
“I struggled with my rhythm early on and he came back in the third set but I thought I did well enough.”
Dolgopolov, the world number 46 who beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Robin Soderling in his previous two matches, had numerous opportunities to take a grip on the match but too often let Murray off the hook with moments of carelessness, a trait he will have to eradicate is he is to make the most of his undoubted potential.
Kim Clijsters advanced to her fifth Australian Open semi-final today after battling past Agnieszka Radwanska.
The Belgian will now meet Vera Zvonareva in the last four in a rematch of last year’s US Open final which Clijsters won.
She was not at her best today but her experience counted at key times as she came through 6-3 7-6 (7/4).
Vera Zvonareva edged closer to a third successive grand slam final by moving into the last four of the Australian Open.
The Russian, who made the title match at both Wimbledon and the US Open last year, was too strong for Petra Kvitova, coming through 6-2 6-4 despite a second-set wobble.