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Andy Murray lines up Rafa Nadal showdown with emphatic win over Feliciano Lopez

Andy Murray reached the Wimbledon semi-finals for the third successive year with an utterly straightforward 6-3 6-4 6-4 victory over unseeded Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.

The first two sets were as comfortable as the fourth seed could possibly have expected at this stage of a grand slam, with Murray playing very well but receiving a significant amount of help.

Lopez finally made a game of it in the third set, forcing his first deuce and then his only break points, but the Scot held firm to stay on course for a first grand slam title.

Murray said: "I thought it was good. I think Feliciano was a little bit tired but I served well for most of the match. I'm playing well. I'm sure in the next round I'm going to get pushed even harder so I'll have to raise my game even more."

The match began with Centre Court barely half full as the crowd took a breather after the excitement of Roger Federer's loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

The British number one had begun his previous match against Richard Gasquet rather slowly but he quickly showed he would not make the same mistake again, piling the pressure on Lopez.

The Spaniard is unseeded but a talented player on grass and making his third appearance in the quarter-finals. He had been hugely impressive in a straight-sets win over Andy Roddick in round three but few were predicting another upset here.

The only surprise was that it took Murray until the sixth game to engineer a break point. And then he needed three before he did finally move ahead, Lopez netting an attempted drop shot.

The third seed was in cruise control, and he could even afford to miss three set points in Lopez's next service game before clinching it on his fifth chance when his opponent netted a forehand.

The main talking point before the match had been Judy Murray's appreciation of the man she calls 'Deliciano', but she was firmly on her son's side for this one, despite some friendly taunts from the crowd.

Murray looked totally focused and a superb passing shot brought up another break point in the third game of the second set but Lopez, who has served more aces in the tournament than anyone else, quickly shut the door.

The Spaniard was bound to be feeling the effects of a lengthy five-setter against Lukasz Kubot in round four, where he had fought back from two sets down, and his right thigh was heavily taped up.

Lopez's stated belief that he could beat Murray for the first time in five meetings had to be called into question by his decision not to pull out of his mixed doubles match on Monday, and he was simply not playing at anywhere near the Scot's pace.

A forehand volley dumped into the net gave the world number four a break for 3-2, and from there he was utterly untroubled, clinching the set 6-4 courtesy of yet another unforced error from Lopez.

Murray had lost only eight points on his serve in the first two sets, and never more than two in a single game, but there were just signs at the start of the third that things might be changing.

Lopez took the Scot to deuce for the first time in game three, finally stringing a series of good shots together, but his revival was quickly curtailed by another Murray break.

It needed the 24-year-old to be at his best, with a forehand winner down the line followed by a stunning pass on the run.

Murray was nearly there, and he held to make it 4-2 without too many problems, but he began to grimace and struggle a little with his movement.

The Scot did not call the trainer but in the eighth game he found himself facing his first break points of the match. Lopez, though, could not take advantage, and three successive aces helped Murray wrap up a simple victory.

Belfast Telegraph

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