BRITISH No1 Andy Murray could be forgiven for feeling that the stars were beginning to align for that long-awaited first grand slam triumph at the US Open this weekend.
The Scot arrived in New York fresh from the biggest victory of his career, that gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics, and, despite finding himself a set and 5-1 down in Wednesday night’s quarter-final with Marin Cilic, has progressed smoothly enough to the last four.
Prospects already lifted by the absence through injury of 2010 winner Rafael Nadal then received another, unexpected boost when world No1 Roger Federer was sent packing by Czech Tomas Berdych, also late on Wednesday.
Murray, 25, is hardly one to let his optimism overflow, but should he need any reminder of the obstacles still in his path he need only glance at his head-to-head record with Berdych, whom he faces tomorrow.
The big-serving, 6ft 5in world No7 is one of the few men to have the edge on Murray, having beaten him on four of the six occasions they have met, including three times from four matches in the last two years. Berdych, 26, has won two of their three contests on hard courts, and beat Murray as recently as April on clay at the Monte Carlo Masters.
They have never met at a grand slam, however, and Murray will take solace from the fact he beat the 2010 Wimbledon finalist in their last hard court encounter, in Dubai six months ago.
Last night, Spain’s David Ferrer beat Janko Tipsarevic 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) in the tournament’s quarter-finals to advance to the final four.
After a relatively comfortable opening set for the in-form Ferrer, Tipsarevic upped his game in pursuit of victory to take the second and the third before the Spaniard’s greater class inspired the victory needed to take him to his third consecutive grand slam semi-final.
MURRAY V BERDYCH
25 Age 26
4 World ranking 7
2 Head to head record 4
23 ATP Tour titles 7
Final Best grand slam finish Final
£13.5m Career prize money £7.3m