- BNP Paribas Masters
Murray crashes out in Paris after Berdych battle
Andy Murray's 17-match unbeaten streak came to an end at the hands of Tomas Berdych as the British No. 1 failed to secure his place in the semi-finals of the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris.
Murray, who was gunning for a fourth straight title in the final Masters event of the year, won the opening set, but Berdych dug deep to secure a gritty 4-6 7-6(5) 6-4 victory after three hours and 12 minutes on court.
Berdych, who booked his place at the ATP World Tour Finals in London with his third round win over Janko Tipsarevic, started brightly against the world No. 3, attacking the Murray serve with a series of punishing groundstrokes. A forehand error from Murray handed the Czech the chance to break, but the British No. 1 dug deep to save three break points.
But it was Murray who drew first blood, converting his opportunity to forge his way ahead. Berdych had his chances to level, but Murray fought them off, mixing topspin and slice before holding serve with a cheeky dropshot.
Berdych proved hard to break down - the world No. 7 saved a string of set points as he threw everything in a bid to stay in the set - forcing Murray into the net, then sending him scurrying to the back of the court with a lob before wrapping up the point with a supreme volley. But Murray's defence is second to none, and just as he looked out of a rally, a brilliant crosscourt forehand wrapped up the opening set.
Berdych grabbed an early break at the start of the second set to keep himself firmly in the contest, consolidating his position with a pair of comfortable service holds. But just as the match looked to be heading for a third set, Murray forged two break points with a flurry of stunning groundstrokes, and although Berdych saved the first with a lucky net cord which wrongfooted his opponent, Murray got himself back on serve when a tame Berdych forehand landed in the net.
After an edgy start in the tiebreak, Berdych won three consecutive points to take a 5-2 lead, but another netted forehand, followed by a pair of inch-perfect passing shots got Murray back in the tiebreak. The momentum was with the Scot, but Berdych refused to lie down, and a cross-court winner secured the tiebreak to force the match to a third set.
Murray, unbeaten since his US Open semi-final defeat to Rafael Nadal in September, has been in some of the best form of his life in recent weeks, but the Scot was unable to find a way past the Czech. A solid service hold got Murray off the mark in the third, but Berdych proved a match as the opening games went with serve.
Murray has not beaten Berdych since 2005, and the Czech saved two break points in the fourth game to draw level, and despite the fact that Murray seemed to be in better shape, the Scot was visibly frustrated and exchanged words with the umpire.
Having looked so comfortable on serve, Murray found himself 0-40 down, and although the Scot saved two break points, he gifted Berdych the break with a double fault, and Berdych found himself serving for the match.
Despite a valiant effort from Murray, running down every ball in an attempt to find a way back into the match, Berdych held his nerve to book his place in the semi-finals, where he will meet Roger Federer after the world No. 4 beat Juan Monaco in straight sets.