Bangkok - Andy Murray lifted his level as he bids for a first career title at the Thailand Open, with the top seed outdueling Bulgarian teenager Gregor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-4 on Friday to reach the semifinals.
Murray, who lost the 2005 final to Roger Federer, is hoping to lift the Bangkok title during the first of a planned three weeks on court in Asia.
He will face the winner from 2009 champion and third seed Gilles Simon of France, who was facing German Mathias Bachinger in a quarterfinal.
The 76th-ranked Dimitrov played Murray tough but finally fell after 90 minutes to the world number four player's superiority.
Murray is keen to try and lift his ATP ranking form fourth to third by the end of the season. He feel that he has a slight opening in the upcoming weeks with Federer staying away from the Asian swing to rest and rehab some slight injuries.
Murray is playing three week in the region, concluding with the Shanghai Masters from October 10 with its 1,000 ranking points to the winner.
"These weeks in Asia are an opportunity," said Murray. "There's not a huge margin between us (a few hundred ranking points) and it's something I'd like to do by the end of the year.
"After the US Open I set a few goals and done of them is to try for number three."
Frenchman Gael Monfils lifted his game after a three-week injury break, overcoming Finn Jarkko Nieminen 7-5, 7-6 (7-4).
The Frenchman said the rest did him good, but he is taking time in getting readjusted to the rigours of the game.
He will play on Saturday against American Donald Young, a winner over Japan's Go Soeda 6-1, 6-2.
Monfils says he can feel improvement with each match after needing three sets to get through his opener at the Impact arena but beating Niemimen in two.
"I was a bit sore when I woke up this morning," confessed the Frenchman. "But my level felt better in this match. There are still things to fix in my game. I was not that strong at the beginning but then had to make some adjustments.
"My knee feels fine but I have to be careful with it. It still needs icing and stretching."
Monfils stands 1-0 over Young, who will break into the Top 50 for the first time after his win over Soeda, his best performance in three Thai tennis visits.
The victory took less than an hour and improved the American's record to 17-13 for 2011.
Gilles Simon (3), France, def. Matthias Bachinger, Germany, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Andy Murray (1), Britain, def. Grigor Dimitrov, Bulgaria, 6-4, 6-4.
Donald Young, United States, def, Go Soeda, Japan, 6-1, 6-2.
Gael Monfils (2), France, def. Jarkko Nieminen, Finland, 7-5, 7-6 (4).