Murray defeats Federer; Nadal waits in final

Andy Murray beat Roger Federer for the fourth straight time 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 to advance to the BNP Paribas Open final against Rafael Nadal.

updated: March 22, 2009 08:21 IST
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Indian Wells (California):

Andy Murray beat Roger Federer for the fourth straight time 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 to advance to the BNP Paribas Open final against Rafael Nadal. No. 4 Murray has won six of eight matches overall against No. 2 Federer.

The 21-year-old Scot will face Nadal after the Spaniard edged No. 7 Andy Roddick 6-4, 7-6 (4) in their semifinal on Saturday.

Nadal will have another difficult match on Sunday against Murray, the 21-year-old Scot who's off to a career-best 20-1 start this year and already has won two tournaments.

"I think he's more focused all the time, he's more regular," Nadal said. "Before, he has one good match and later he plays one set well and two sets not at the same level.

"Right now he's playing all the time very solid and very regular. You look at his results the last seven, eight months, he's not losing to anyone. He only loses against the best, and not a lot of times."

Nadal smiled and added, "I hope tomorrow." Federer, whose four-year stint at No. 1 ended last year, made some outstanding shots against Murray, and some awful ones. Inconsistency remains his problem as he tries to fight his way back to the top.

The Swiss star made a whopping 32 unforced errors, including several by clanging routine shots off the frame of his racket.

Murray was a model of consistency, scrambling back and forth to keep the ball in play and making just 15 unforced errors.

After Federer came back to win the second set, Murray earned a break in the fourth game of the third to take control. Murray had a scary moment in that game when his feet slipped out from under him and he did the splits while trying to stop, turn and get to a shot behind him.

He yelled in pain, but got up off the court a few seconds later and obviously wasn't hampered - he won the next three points.

"I was worried for him, went down badly, screamed," Federer said. "I was happy to see that he got back up." Said Murray: "Obviously a bit scared at first, then once I got up and ran around after a couple of points, I knew that it felt OK."

Federer, who said he made "way too many errors today," obviously was impressed by Murray.

"He's a great counterpuncher and reads the game really well," the Swiss star said. "He's got great feel, so he's very confident at the moment. He knows he doesn't need to play close to the lines because he knows he can cover the court really well.

"I think that calms him down mentally. I think that's why he's playing so well."

Murray doesn't mind being called a "counterpuncher."

"It's not just going for big, booming serves and huge forehands all the time," Murray said. "If I change the pace with the ball, mix it up, I'm playing the match how I want it to go.

"If I started trading big groundstrokes with someone like Federer, I think he likes that. I haven't done it against him and I don't do it against many people. That's my style, very rarely do I lose matches having let the other guy play his natural game."

Murray is trying for his third title of the young season. He won at both Dubai and Rotterdam.

Nadal, the 2007 Indian Wells champion, improved to 5-2 against Roddick.

He constantly powered his forehand into the corner to Roddick's backhand, ended several long rallies by passing Roddick with a shot down the line when the American came to the net.

Nadal finished with 17 forehand winners to Roddick's four. Nadal also was effective when he went to the net, winning 11 of 15 points to Roddick's 10 of 27.

Roddick still left Indian Wells with a trophy. Shortly after his loss to Nadal, he joined Mardy Fish for the men's doubles final. They beat Max Mirnyi and Andy Ram 3-6, 6-1, 14-12 tiebreaker.

Roddick thanked Fish for "carrying" him during the doubles, saying, "Especially today, I was a little down after the singles match and he picked me up."

Vera Zvonareva, who defeated Victoria Azarenka in the women's semifinals, joined with Azarenka to win the women's doubles title, beating Gisela Dulko of Argentina and Shahar Peer of Israel 6-4, 3-6, 10-5 tiebreaker.

Zvonareva will face defending champion Ana Ivanovic in the singles final.

Both the men's and women's singles finals are on Sunday.