Perfect Murray sets up Federer rematch

Andy Murray maintained his perfect record at the Shanghai Masters Friday, battling back against unseeded Radek Stepanek to set up a mouthwatering Olympic rematch against Roger Federer in the semi-finals.

Andy Murray hits a return to Radek Stepanek at the Shanghai Masters on Friday. Murray maintained his perfect record at the event, battling back against unseeded Stepanek to set up a mouthwatering Olympic rematch against Roger Federer in the semi-finals.

The US Open champion, chasing a hat-trick of titles in the eastern Chinese city, was below par in losing the first set to the dangerous Czech, ranked 41, before finding his rhythm to win 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in two hours and 18 minutes.

Federer eased past Croatian 10th seed Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-4 while second seed Novak Djokovic cantered to a 6-3, 6-3 win over German veteran Tommy Haas and will meet Tomas Berdych in a semi-final line-up featuring all four top seeds.

The match-up between Murray and Federer comes after two high-profile duels in the space of just a few weeks. The Swiss drew first blood, winning the Wimbledon crown in July but Murray demolished Federer to take Olympic gold.

"Obviously more has happened for him in the last three months than for me. He had the breakthrough victory, if you like to call it that way, at the (US) Open. The Olympics was too, to some degree," said world number one Federer.

"Some people still weren't happy with that. It's amazing to see him back it up at the Open. I assume he's very confident right now and probably playing with a little bit less pressure. Then again, that can go either way."

Third seed Murray won 20 of the last 25 points of his match against 33-year-old Stepanek to give the scoreline a respectable gloss after two sets he described as "scrappy".

"I just managed to turn it around in time," said the 25-year-old, who won in Shanghai in 2010 and 2011. "I played actually very well I thought the last 10, 15 minutes of the match."

In-form Djokovic, who has his eyes firmly fixed on dislodging Federer from the top of the rankings as the season enters its final weeks, was also impressive, breaking the 34-year-old Haas five times.

"I feel good. I've been winning a lot of matches in the last period, so it's something that is always welcome when you want to have confidence, when you want to feel good about yourself on the court," said the Serbian, 25.

"I try not to think about the long season that is behind me. There are still couple of big tournaments, including this one, where I want to do well."

Djokovic will play fourth seed Tomas Berdych in the last four, who came out on top against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a battle between two of the contenders to reach next month's ATP World Tour Finals.

The Czech grabbed a crucial break against the powerful Frenchman in the eighth game of the first set and edged the second set tie-break to win 6-3, 7-6 (7/4).

With four berths still up for grabs at the elite eight-man showpiece in the British capital, Berdych, 27, is sixth in the Race to London while Tsonga, also 27, is in eighth spot.

Federer, Djokovic and Murray have already qualified for London, along with the injured Rafael Nadal.

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Writer: AFP
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