Andy Murray is chasing history in Australia. No man in the Open era has managed to follow-up their first Grand Slam title by winning the next major tournament. It would be a huge achievement for Murray, and one which could signal what many observers have long-expected: a series of major title wins for the finest British player of a generation.
His progress so far has been serene. Five matches played and not a set dropped. The latest victory came over Jeremy Chardy of France in the quarter-finals, with Murray barely troubled on his way to a 6-4 6-1 6-2 victory. He now safely takes his place in his 12th career Grand Slam semi-final - his fourth consecutive last-four berth in Australia - where he will meet either Roger Federer of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. It really is a mouthwatering prospect.
Chardy, the only unseeded player left in the draw, had beaten Del Potro, one of the fiercest competitors on tour, earlier in the tournament. He had also beaten Murray in their last encounter, a straight sets win at last year's Cincinnati Masters. It shouldn't have been quite this easy for Murray but he found his form and left Chardy struggling to compete.
Despite the ease with which Murray had progressed to the quarter-finals, he hadn't been playing particularly well, with his timing and movement looking decidedly off at times. All that changed in this match as he found his usual level of performance; a level way too high for Chardy to contend with. The Frenchman, competing in his first ever Grand Slam quarter-final, has only ever won one career title since turning pro in 2005. The gulf in class between the two players grew ever more obvious as the match wore on.
Some have suggested that Roger Federer gets favourable draws at the major events but there's little doubt that it's Murray who has benefited from a less-than difficult series of opponents this week. However, this is where it gets tough for Murray. There's no easy matches left. If he is to make history he will likely have to beat Federer and Djokovic, the two finest players in the world. Serious examinations lie in wait for which Murray must be prepared, but the energy he has expended in reaching the last-four is minimal. He is well placed to win his first Australian Open title. The pressure of not having won a Grand Slam has gone and Murray looks under far less pressure.
This quarter-final was far from a classic but Murray won't care one jot. He's into the last-four and has barely broken sweat. This is a tournament Murray enjoys. The man nicknamed 'Crocodile Dunblane' by his fans down under has history in his sights. It would take a brave man to back against him.
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