British No1 Andy Murray scaled a new career high last night when he reached the semi-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time with an epic victory over Juan Martin Del Potro at the US Open.
Murray, 21, showed tremendous determination to see off a comeback from Del Potro and end the Argentine’s remarkable 23-match, four-tournament unbeaten run. The 7-6, 7-6, 4-6, 7-5 win also handed Murray bragging rights over his 19- year-old opponent, who had angered him in their previous encounter with a shot aimed at the Scot and a barb about his mother, Judy.
A dramatic final set saw powerful 6ft 7in Del Potro break Murray twice. But the Briton – now guaranteed a top five world ranking – broke three times, including in the final game, to seal a memorable triumph.
Murray, who looked in superb shape in his fourth round win, started the quarter-final where he left off, taking a 3-0 lead. Sloppiness allowed Del Potro to force a tie-break, but Murray rediscovered his composure to take it 7-2, and claim the first set.
Del Potro, who needed treatment on his leg before the second set, matched Murray until the 11th game, when the Scot broke for 6-5. The Argentine recovered to save the set with a love game, but again crumbled in the tie-break, which Murray won 7-1.
Murray started the third strongly, exploiting his opponent’s lack of mobility with astute shot selection. The pair swapped early breaks, but Murray looked to have the upper hand when Del Potro called the trainer on once more. However, despite moving gingerly, the South American found fresh momentum and broke for a 5-4 lead, before serving out the set, which he claimed with an ace.
In the fourth set Murray twice recovered from being broken by a reinvigorated Del Potro and, in the twelfth game, struck the decisive blow. Murray earned two match points on the Argentine’s serve and, after netting the first, hit a booming forehand that forced Del Potro too wide to return into the court.