Murray into US Open final

Sun, Sep 9, 2012, 01:00

Tennis: Andy Murray beat Tomas Berdych - and a howling gale - to move into the US Open final. Murray won a see-saw contest 5-7 6-2 6-1 7-6 (9/7) at Flushing Meadows to set up a clash with either defending champion Novak Djokovic or David Ferrer.

That final will take place tomorrow at 9pm (Irish time) after the weather worsened and caused tournament organisers to halt the second semi-final and send spectators home for their own safety.

In terrible windy conditions - the match had initially been delayed by a rain storm and was interrupted regularly by items, including a chair, blowing onto the court - Berdych came from a break down to win the first set but then Murray took over, sweeping the Czech aside in the second and third.

Murray had two points to lead by a double break in the fourth set but after failing to take that opportunity duly dropped his serve.

Rediscovering his powerful serve, Berdych forced the set into a tie-break, which he led 5-2. But this time it was Murray's time to fight back and he dug deep to clinch his place in the final - his second in New York and fifth at Grand Slam level overall - after three hours and 58 minutes on court.

Murray lost to Roger Federer in the 2008 US Open final and has also lost three more since.

Afterwards, Murray described the conditions as "brutal" adding: "(They are) some of the hardest conditions I've ever played in, that's for sure, and I come from Scotland so that's saying something!"

Asked if he feels this is his time after winning Olympic gold recently, Murray said: "I hope so.

"You can never say for sure, I know how hard these tournaments are to win. David and Novak are top, top players. When the conditions are like this, anything could have happened. I'll give everything in the final."

Murray went into the match as the favourite by ranking and experience at the latter stages of grand slams but also knowing Berdych had won four of their six previous matches.

The big-hitting Czech had also served notice of what a threat he would be by blasting past Federer in the quarter-finals.

Murray piled the pressure on Berdych in a lengthy third game and got the break when the sixth seed drilled a forehand just wide.

Murray thought he had saved a break point in the next game but Berdych protested he had been distracted by his opponent's hat blowing off and, after a heated exchange between the two men and umpire Pascal Maria, the point was replayed and the Czech broke back to 2-2.

Berdych was struggling with his ball toss to such an extent that at times he was serving at little more than 80mph but he was certainly hitting the ball cleanly off the ground.

Holding serve into the wind was the main problem and Murray was furious with himself that he did not put more pressure on his opponent in the 11th game.

That left him serving to stay in the set for a second time and he could not manage it, the Scot struggling to keep his cool as Berdych broke through with a mighty swipe of his forehand.

Murray was clearly fired up and immediately had three break points at the start of the second set, taking the second when Berdych pushed a forehand long.

The Scot seemed to be enjoying himself a bit more now, taking on the challenge instead of being frustrated by it, and he broke again to lead 4-1.

Berdych held to force the third seed to serve out the set, but no sooner had Murray thrown the ball up for his first serve than a gust of wind blew his chair and racquet bag across the court.

The Czech laughed at the impossibility of playing tennis in such conditions but on they went and Murray duly wrapped up the set.

The Scot, who was being watched by countryman Sean Connery, began the third set as he had the second, with a break of serve, as Berdych shot an exasperated look towards his supporters.

Murray's greater variety and tactical acumen suited the conditions much better than the Czech's raw power and another break for 3-0 gave him a firm hold on the match.

Mentally, Berdych seemed to have gone walkabout and, although he saved four set points at 1-5, a fifth arrived and this time the Czech drilled a forehand just long.

Berdych's hopes of making a second grand slam final were hanging by a thread, and they took another hit when Murray broke again in the second game of the fourth set.

The sixth seed stopped the run of games against him at five, saving more break points, and that seemed to revitalise him as he then created a rare opening on the Murray serve and took it.

Suddenly it was a match again, albeit one that was still very much in the third seed's hands, but if he was going to win it in four sets it would have to be in a tie-break.

Murray was unfortunate that he started the game at the more difficult end and Berdych raced into a 4-1 lead, but the Scot recovered the deficit when they switched ends, levelling at 5-5 with an angled backhand return.

Berdych played a good point to move 6-5 in front but Murray saved the set point and then brought up his first match point only to see the Czech fire down an ace.

Berdych erred with his forehand, though, to give Murray a match point on his own serve, and another mistake from the Czech sent his opponent leaping around the court in delight.

Ferrer led Djokovic 5-2 in the second semi when play was halted for the day. They will resume at 1600 BST on Sunday.

Murray is certainly in the best position as he will now have a day off before the fifth Monday final in as many years, while Djokovic and Ferrer have to finish on Sunday.

The boot was on the other foot for the Scot four years ago, when he beat Rafael Nadal on the Sunday before playing Federer in his first grand slam final, losing in four sets.

He added: "I didn't get the day off then and maybe it hurt me a little bit. Novak and David are very, very experienced so I'm sure they will deal with the situation better than I did back then anyway. But it will be nice to get a rest tomorrow and also to be able to practise and get your rhythm back. Because some of the shots I was playing out there today I certainly won't be playing if it calms down."

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