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Murray on course for hat-trick

Shanghai, October 12, 2012, Agencies:

Berdych too good for Tsonga; Federer, Djokovic enter semis

Andy Murray remained on course for a hat-trick of titles at the Shanghai Masters despite the best efforts of tricky Czech Radek Stepanek on Friday and now sets his sights on Roger Federer.

Third seed Murray was out-foxed in the first set by the unorthodox Stepanek before recovering to win 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

The Briton will face world number one Roger Federer, who beat Croatia’s Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-4 to conclude the day’s action at the Qi Zhong Tennis Centre.

In the bottom half of the draw Tomas Berdych proved too solid for Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, winning 6-3, 7-6 to set up a Sunday final with Novak Djokovic who ended the run of Germany’s Tommy Haas, winning 6-3, 6-3.

Murray met his match early on against Stepanek -- a player who relies on crafty angles, changes of pace and razor-sharp volleys to throw opponents off balance. Stepanek pounced on some loose play from Murray to earn three break points in the fifth game of the opening set and although two were saved the Czech converted the third.

Murray was still struggling to get to grips with his opponent at the start of the second set but his superior firepower eventually paid off when he accelerated from 2-2 to take the match into a decider. The momentum switched back to Stepanek when he broke to lead 2-1 in the third but Murray responded immediately to level.

The Scot then broke serve in the eighth game before securing victory in two hours 18 minutes. Earlier, fourth seed Berdych notched up his 53rd victory of the season to reach the semifinals of the tournament for the first time.

Indian pairs advance

Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna may meet Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek in the summit clash after reaching the semifinals of the dopubles event.

Bhupathi and Bopanna, seeded seventh, shocked second seeds Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor 7-6 (9-7), 6-4 in one hour 23 minutes in the quarterfinals. Later in the day, fourth seeded Paes and Stepanek got the better of unseeded combo of Canadian Milos Raonic and Austrian Jurgen Melzer 7-5, 6-7 (4-7), 10-5 in one hour and 36 minutes to move into the semifinal.

Bhupathi and Bopanna next face unseeded British pair of Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins.

Paes and Stepanek will take on the winner of the other quarterfinal between the pairs of Eric Butorac/ Philipp Petzschner and Marin Cilic/Marcelo Melo.

Stosur storms into semis

Top seed Sam Stosur cruised past Jamie Hampton of the United States in a 6-2, 6-4 win to reach the semifinals of the Japan Open in Osaka on Friday.

Stosur is to play Chang Kai-Chen of Taiwan for a shot at her first title since September last year.

Against Hampton, the Australian showed little sign of the flaws that caused her to drop a set in the second round against Virginie Razzano.

In the other half of the draw, Heather Watson of Britain won 7-5, 6-3 against France’s Pauline Parmentier and now faces a semifinal against local player Misaki Doi, who stunned seventh seed Chanelle Scheepers.


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