Murray keeps streak alive
Shanghai - Defending champion Andy Murray battled back from a set down against unseeded Radek Stepanek to reach the Shanghai Masters semi-finals on Friday, keeping alive his unbeaten record at the tournament.
US Open champion Murray, 25, who won the 2010 and 2011 titles in the Chinese city, was staring defeat in the face when a set down and searching in vain for inspiration against the Czech, ranked 41, but recovered to win 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
A single break was enough for 33-year-old Stepanek to win the first set as he troubled the third seed with frequent successful forays to the net.
A rattled Murray, muttering to himself in frustration, finally made the breakthrough in the sixth game of the second set, breaking again to level the match.
Just when it appeared the tide had turned, Stepanek again broke the Scot early in the decider but Murray hit back immediately, repeating the feat to set up a semi-final clash with either Roger Federer or Marin Cilic of Croatia.
Earlier, Tomas Berdych came out on top against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a battle between two of the contenders to reach next month's ATP World Tour Finals.
The Czech fourth seed won 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), grabbing a crucial break against the powerful Frenchman in the eighth game of the first set and edging the second set tie-break to set up a semi-final against Novak Djokovic or Tommy Haas.
"I think it was a really solid game and solid performance from beginning until the end. Yeah, I was feeling quite well on court," said Berdych, who next month is set to be part of the Czech team playing Spain in the Davis Cup final.
"You know, I think the biggest difference between me and Jo was I was able to take the small chances during even the first and especially the second set."
With four berths still up for grabs at the elite eight-man showpiece in the UK's capital, Berdych, 27, is sixth in the Race to London while Tsonga, also 27, is in eighth spot.
World number one Federer, Djokovic and Murray have already qualified for London, along with the injured Rafael Nadal.
Federer's win on Thursday over Davis Cup team-mate Stanislas Wawrinka guaranteed him a record 300th week as world number one when the next rankings are published on Monday.
Djokovic's quarter-final opponent Haas, 34, who reached a best of number two in the world, is one victory away from reaching 500 singles match wins.