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Tennis: Murray beats pain barrier

IT was by no means the biggest win of his career, but Andy Murray has rarely felt as emotional after a match.

The 24-year-old Scot buried his head in his towel after completing his recovery from two sets down to beat Serbia's Viktor Troicki 4-6 4-6 6-3 6-2 7-5 in their delayed fourth-round match in the French Open, having trailed 5-2 in the deciding set.

The match had to be completed yesterday after the Scot had fought back from two sets and a break down on Monday night to tie things up.

Troicki was on the brink of victory in the one-set shootout when he served at 5-3 and 30-0, but Murray won the next four points courtesy of a fine backhand return winner and three errors by his increasingly nervous opponent.


Two games later Murray broke again, after which he converted his fourth match-point with a beautifully struck backhand cross-court passing shot. It was the fifth time in his career that he had come back to win from two sets down.

The Scot had begun the match by losing five straight games as he battled to overcome an ankle injury sustained in his previous victory over Michael Berrer.

Having secured a place in the quarter-finals, in which he will face Argentina's Juan Ignacio Chela today, Murray revealed that an MRI scan on his right ankle had revealed a partial tear in a tendon.

Pain-killers helped him get through the match. "They were very, very strong," Murray said. "I have more pills in me than Ozzy Osbourne and I feel a million bucks now, but I am sure I won't when they wear off."

Roger Federer will face Novak Djokovic in a blockbuster semi-final after seeing off Gael Monfils 6-4 6-3 7-6 (7/3). The 2009 champion -- the only man to have reached the last four without dropping a set -- never really looked in any trouble against the Frenchman, although it was far from a vintage performance.

Between them, Federer and Monfils hit nearly 100 unforced errors, with the ninth seed contributing 53 of them, but it was the 41 winners from Federer that proved the difference.

The world No 3 said: "I'm very happy. I'm feeling very good and I'm obviously proud about this achievement. It's definitely always nice to be in the semi-finals of a Grand Slam.

"It was not just playing against Gael, it was playing against the conditions. So, I'm relieved and satisfied with my performance."

The strong wind made life difficult for both players, with Federer in particular mistiming a lot of shots early on, allowing Monfils to break his serve in the third game.

However, the Swiss man soon hit back before another break in the 10th game saw him clinch the second set.

Federer began the second set with a run of three games in a row and, although Monfils briefly broke back, he then threw in a horror show of a game, missing a smash from on top of the net and serving two double-faults in a row to concede another break.

That was that as far as the second set was concerned and, given Federer had never lost a Grand-Slam match from two sets up, the match seemed certain to follow. The 29-year-old again failed to hold on to a break at the start of the third set, but, despite failing to convert 11 break points, Federer dominated the tie-break and clinched victory on his third match point.

Federer is now the only man who can stop Djokovic becoming world No 1 and equalling John McEnroe's record start to a season of 42 straight wins.

The pair have met five times in the semi-finals of majors, with Djokovic, who was given a walkover into the last four by Fabio Fognini's withdrawal, winning three, including at the last two tournaments in Melbourne and New York.

Federer added: "I'm looking forward to the match. I think we always play well against each other."

Djokovic could even become world No 1 before Friday if current incumbent Rafael Nadal loses to Robin Soderling in the quarter-finals today.


In the women's competition, defending champion Francesca Schiavone recovered from a torrid start to beat Russian 14th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 1-6 7-5 7-5 and set-up a semi-final showdown with France's Marion Bartoli, who beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6 6-4.

Schiavone, the fifth seed, struggled to cope with windy conditions and her 19-year-old opponent's powerful shots as she fell 6-1 4-2 behind in under an hour before getting her act together.

The Italian won six games in a row to take the second set and break twice in the decider before prevailing after further wobbles from both players.

"I can't go serve and volley or do something strange. The key is to play deep and with spin and as soon as I have the chance go inside," the 30-year-old champion told reporters explaining her tactics. (© Independent News Service)

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