Andy Murray moved to within one match of an Olympic medal after a resounding 6-4, 6-1 victory over 11th seed Nicolas Almagro in 59 minutes on Court 1 today.
It was a dominant performance from the world number four, who never looked like losing after breaking in the fifth game of the match. He was serving at a level close to his best, firing down an incredible 15 aces and finding 81% of his first serves. This was compounded by his aggressive play that saw him hit 29 winners to just seven unforced errors, allowing Murray to dictate against the Spaniard for most of the match.
The Scot got off to a better start than in his previous encounter - where he was broken in the opening game – with a hold to love. The opening four service games went with serve but Murray made his move in the fifth – breaking to love after some heavy hitting to create three break points, before the Spaniard double-faulted to hand the Brit the first break of the match.
The third seed was firing on all cylinders and continued to pepper down big serves. Combined with some aggressive hitting inside the baseline this allowed him to dictate the points and dominate the early stages of the match. The British number one came close to breaking again at 4-2 but some big hitting from Almagro denied him to keep the Spaniard in contention. However Murray responded in emphatic fashion, firing down four successive aces to hold to love for a 5-3 lead.Read more (315 words)
The Brit was delighting the home crowd with some excellent hitting and brought them to their feet with an extraordinary winner around the net post, after a net cord from the Spaniard saw the ball spin beyond the tramlines. Almagro once again was able to cling on to his serve but Murray was unfazed and yet another love game secured the first set.
Murray was serving magnificently and had only dropped three points behind the serve, with an incredible 83% first serve percentage. Almagro on the other hand had appeared to be struggling with a shoulder injury for much of the first set, and it was little surprise when he called the trainer on at the interval.
Despite the treatment Almagro was still struggling to avoid errors and this was compounded by Murray who was relentless, breaking right at the start of the second set with yet another cross-court winner. The frustration was clearly getting to the Spanish number three and after another error he punched his racquet away in disgust.
Almagro was clearly struggling to move as well as he’d like and Murray was taking full advantage of this, dragging him around the court, using every weapon in his arsenal. And in the fourth game he broke again, hitting a stunning cross-court pass whilst on the stretch to seal it – a move that is fast becoming his signature shot.
The match was heading in only one direction by this point and after another love service game from the Brit, Almagro found himself serving to stay in the match. But the Scot was simply too good, and a big return set up match points before Almagro netted to confirm Murray’s place in the semi-finals.
Murray will now take on good friend Novak Djokovic for a place in the Olympic tennis final, after the world number two ousted the Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1, 7-5 in the other quarter-final.