- Aegon Championships
Murray edges past Becker at Queen's
Andy Murray is into the semi-finals at Queen's after a 6-4 7-6(3) victory over Benjamin Becker, but it was not as routine for the British No. 1 as the scoreline suggests.
It was a perfect start for the Scot, who was out of his blocks like a greyhound to send a Becker drop shot back past the German to set up break point in the very first game, which he duly took.
And when Murray got his second break in the fifth to fly into a 4-1 lead, it looked like it was going to be a walk in the park for the World No. 2.
But it would not be Murray without a mid-set collapse and, just as it started to look like one-way traffic, Becker produced an inch-perfect forehand which left Murray on his back to set up two break points and make it 4-2.
It was but a wobble and, at 5-4 and 30-0, Murray slammed a serve into the backboards that Becker gets nowhere near. Becker did his best to save the set point but a forehand strayed long and Murray was in control.
Lengthy treatment from the physio for Becker meant the second set looked destined to go the same way - particularly when Murray broke for 2-1. But Becker fought back and raced into a 40-0 lead in the fourth game, where he read an attempted drop shot from Murray and punished the Scotsman.
And two games later, that mid-set quiver was back as Murray started to make some clumsy mistakes and found himself 4-2 down. It didn't last long, as a sumptuous curling forehand set up three break points and the pair were back to square one.
Heading into the tie break, it was Becker's turn to fall apart and Murray raced into a 6-0 lead to set up six match points. He gave up the first three, drifting a backhand long, a forehand wide and then floating one into the net, but, back on serve, Murray made no mistake and booked his place in the final four.
"My concentration slipped a bit and Becker gained confidence with that," Murray admitted afterwards. "But I made some bad decisions when I was up a set and a break and they cost me some sloppy mistakes."
Murray will now face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the man he beat in the 2011 final, after the fourth seed waltzed past Denis Kudla 6-2 6-3.
20-year-old American Kudla had no response to a resurgent Tsonga as the Frenchman powered his way into a showdown with Murray.
On the other side of the draw, defending champion Marin Cilic sealed his place in the semi-finals after the Croatian edged out second seed Tomas Berdych 7-5 7-6(4) in a high-quality encounter.
With neither player unable to secure a break of serve after eight games, it was Cilic who pushed for the advantage at the end of the set and had two points to clinch it.
However, Berdych kept his cool to stay alive, but the Czech could not repeat the feat in the 12th game as Cilic won the battle of the servers to move a set in front.
And the second set saw each player hold serve to force a tiebreak - one which Cilic clinched when he claimed the mini-break in the sixth point - with Cilic emerging victorious to reach the last-four.
Cilic will face four-times winner Lleyton Hewitt after the Australian saw off Juan Martin del Potro in three sets.
Hewitt raced away with the first set 6-2, but the Argentine rallied and took the second set by the same scoreline. But Hewitt, champion here in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2006, rolled back the years with a vintage display of thundering forehands and sumptuous backhands to take the third, also 6-2.
"I'm still hanging in there," Hewitt, whose career has been blighted by injury, said after the win. "The last four or five years have been tough with surgeries. Mentally I feel fresh, I'm enjoying competing with the best players in the world. I played really well, I've got better with each match this week."