Murray, Federer, Set for Semifinal Showdown

August 21, 2009 11:00 AM
MASON – The top two players in the world will clash for the first time in the history of the Cincinnati tournament on Saturday afternoon when No. 1 Roger Federer takes on No. 2 Andy Murray in the 2009 Western & Southern Financial Group Masters semifinals.

The battle between No. 1 and No. 2 will be 66th all-time meeting between players in the top two spots in the history of the ATP rankings since 1973. It will be only the 10th of those meetings to happen before a final, and is the first to occur outside of the year-end championships or Wimbledon.

Murray, the defending champion, outlasted French lucky loser Julien Benneteau 4-6 6-3 6-1 in 2:11, while Federer defeated former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt 6-3 6-4.

Murray got the first advantage against Benneteau, breaking his French foe in the fifth game of the match to go up 3-2. The Scot gave the break back immediately, and then hit consecutive double faults to end the set in Benneteau’s favor.

Benneteau struck first in the second set, earning a break and going up 2-0. Murray worked to get a break point in the third game, and was able convert when Benneteau was unable to keep an overhead in the court on the 53rd shot of the rally.

Murray conceded just two games after the epic rally, and closed out his 14th straight win in North America and eighth in a row in Cincinnati with relative ease.

“It made a big difference,” Murray said of the long point. “I think he was very tired after that rally as well. I managed to stay strong after that, and, you know    well, I only lost two more games, so obviously made a big difference.”

Benneteau was just the third lucky loser in tournament history to reach the quarterfinals in Cincinnati, and the first since Alex O'Brien in 1994.

For two-time Cincinnati champion Federer, Friday's win was the 200th in his career at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events.

That victory came in just 70 minutes as Federer broke the Australian on Hewitt’s third service game in both sets. Federer did not face a break point in the match.

“It didn't actually come to my mind that I didn't have to save any breakpoints,” Federer said. “I think that definitely helps against Lleyton, who once he gets his teeth into your serve it can get quite tricky.”

Murray is 6-2 against Federer, including wins in their two meetings in 2009.

“To get the chance to play against him is special,” Murray said. “I've beaten him quite a lot of times, and I enjoy playing against him. I understand it's gonna be a very difficult match.  I just look toward forward to the challenge of playing one of the best ever.”

Federer also looks forward to Saturday’s match.

“We've always had close matches, and good ones actually against each other,” he said. “So for this reason I'm excited playing against him.”