Murray checks into top four

Andy Murray became only the fifth player from Great Britain to reach the semi-finals of a grand slam when he withstood the testing challenge of the 6ft 6in Argentine Juan Martin del Potro to secure an impressive 7-6 7-6 4-6 7-5 victory.

Andy Murray shows his delight after defeating Juan Martin del Potro.
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Andy Murray became only the fifth player from Great Britain to reach the semi-finals of a grand slam when he withstood the testing challenge of the 6ft 6in Argentine Juan Martin del Potro to secure an impressive 7-6 7-6 4-6 7-5 victory.

Murray, 21, is not content with that creditable achievement, however, and wants to go all the way to the title on Sunday, even though the all-conquering Rafael Nadal is blocking his path to the final. "I said at the start of the tournament, I want to try to win it. I don't want to lose in the semi-finals," said the Scot, his confidence boosted by his winning one of the principal warm-up tournaments in Cincinnati a month ago.

Whatever happens against Nadal, who thrashed him when they met in the Wimbledon quarter-finals and beat him again in the semi- finals of the Rogers Cup in Toronto, Murray will be richly rewarded for a solid programme on the North American hard courts. He will rise to a career-high ranking of four next week which, barring injury, will make him a certain qualifier for the prestigious end-of-year championships in Shanghai.

He was pleased with the way he dealt with the considerable threat of del Potro, who is one of the hottest players on the men's tour at present, having won all 23 of his previous matches in the collection of four successive titles. He did not dwell on a potentially costly lapse in the third set when, after breaking a string in his racket, he allowed del Potro to fight back from the brink of defeat to extend their battle into a fourth set. "It was always going to be a tough match because of his winning streak," said Murray, who fell out with del Potro in Rome last May after accusing the Argentine of making an insulting remark about his mother Judy.

"I knew I was going to have to fight a lot and change the pace of the ball because he's really solid from the back of the court. My tactics worked quite well." Murray believes the second confrontation with del Potro, who is considered to be on course for a top-10 ranking, will heal any rift between the two youngsters. "I think quite early on in the match there was a feeling of respect between us," he reflected.

"There was no arguing over line calls or anyone trying to get in anyone's face. I think a lot was made of what happened the last time I played against him. But I said it wasn't going to be a problem and just at the end of the match he said, 'I'm sorry for what happened before'. I told him it was a great run he had been on. I'm sure we'll have some great matches in the future. That was it." Del Potro, 19, confirmed that the two have put their differences firmly behind them. "I have improved a lot but today I played against one of the best players in the world," he said.

Come Monday, Murray will be ranked No 4, equalling the highest placing Tim Henman or Greg Rusedski ever achieved. His fourth sound victory over Stanislas Wawrinka had previously earned him the world No 5 ranking following the fourth-ranked David Ferrer's third-round exit. wjohnson@thenational.ae