Murray moves into semis

2013-01-04 10:03

Brisbane - Andy Murray was back on his game Friday, with coach Ivan Lendl watching closely as he beat Denis Istomin 6-4, 7-6 (3) to reach the Brisbane International semi-finals.

The reigning US Open champion had lapses in his opening three-set win over No 199-ranked Australian qualifier John Millman the previous night, while Lendl was en route to Australia, but had no serious trouble in his second match of the year.

The first of Murray's three titles in a breakthrough 2012 season was in Brisbane, where he started working with former No 1-ranked Lendl last January. The next two titles were career-defining triumphs at the London Olympics and US Open.

He next plays fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan, a 6-4, 7-6 (3) winner over 2012 Brisbane finalist Alexandr Dolgopolov.

Earlier on Friday, 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis ousted No 3 Gilles Simon of France 6-3, 6-4 to set up a semi-final against 21-year-old Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, who beat seventh-seeded Austrian Jurgen Melzer 6-3, 6-2.

In the night session, top-ranked Victoria Azarenka was playing No 3 Serena Williams in a semifinal featuring the two dominant women on the tour in 2012. Williams has won 11 of their previous 12 meetings, including the last US Open final.

Murray didn't face a breakpoint in the second set, and only lost one point in his first three service games of the set - a call he disputed but lost on the challenge review.

He held serve to force a tiebreaker and trailed Istomin 3-1 before winning six straight points. Istomin served the only double-fault of the match to surrender triple match point and Murray hit a forehand winner to clinch it in little more than 1 1/2 hours.

Murray dropped a set to Millman and appeared to be sore and fatigued at times on Thursday night but there was no such issues in front of Lendl, who has played a key role in ending the Scottish player's run of four defeats in Grand Slam finals before he finally won a major.

Lendl also lost four major finals before his claiming the first of his eight Grand Slam crowns.