Andy Murray beat last week’s Nottingham finalist Benjamin Becker 6-4, 7-6(3) at the Aegon Championships today, but he was made to work hard for it after a second set blip.
The top seed started well and looked to be coasting early on, but Becker bounced back strong and the British number one had to fight from a break down in the second set, before sealing it on a tie-break.
Murray was looking quite relaxed as the match begun and got off to the perfect start – breaking his German opponent in the very first game, who seemed to be struggling to find his range.
The Brit’s serve was firing once again, and after a couple of straightforward holds he pounced again. A nice touch volley was followed by a heavy forehand winner for the break points, and despite a poor lob that barely cleared the net, Becker could only volley the ball into the tramlines as Murray surged 4-1 ahead.
The German seemed to be settling down and in the next game he found himself with a couple of break points of his own. Although the world number two saved both with two huge serves, the German persisted and eventually prevailed to reduce the deficit.Read more (373 words)
A better service game from Becker saw Murray’s lead cut to just one game, but some great serving from the Brit helped him to a love hold as he edged towards the first set. The German responded in equal fashion, forcing Murray to have to serve it out. Which he did with little hassle – a third successive love hold to take the opener 6-4.
The trainer made an appearance for Becker at the interval for an apparent neck injury as Murray looked to continue where he’d left on the resumption – quickly getting 0-30 on Becker’s serve – but some good play from the German combined with a couple of errors from the top seed helped Becker to a hold.
The world number 105 couldn’t repeat it in his next service game though, as Murray created more break points after successive winners from both wings, before seizing the break on the second of them. But he was unable to consolidate; a poor service game allowing Becker to break straight back to love.
Becker appeared to be finding his rhythm now, and some great play - including a stunning passing shot - fended off any hopes from the Brit of regaining the lead. And now it was Murray who was struggling to find the court, constantly shanking and allowing Becker to break again for a 4-2 lead.
Murray’s response was instant. A brilliantly guided forehand pass found the line for break-back points, and Becker eventually netted on the third to allow the Brit back into the set before levelling it up with some heavy serving.
The German was looking the stronger and it was Murray who had to dig deep to hold on to his serve, but the Brit managed to cling on and take the set to a tie-break. And it was Becker who fell apart, hitting a number of errors – including a double fault- as Murray raced to a 6-0 lead. Things started to get a little frenetic as Becker pulled it back to 6-3, but the world number two eventually finished it off to book his place in the semi-finals.
Murray will face the winner of Roland Garros semi-finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and the young American Denis Kudla for a place in the final.