Tokyo: Defending champion and top-seeded Andy Murray moved into the semifinals of the Japan Open with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 win over seventh-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland on Friday.
Playing in his first tournament since winning the U.S. Open last month, Murray scored a comprehensive victory over the Swiss with a powerful forehand and some fine volleys.
Murray will play sixth-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada in the semifinals on Saturday. Raonic outlasted third-seeded Janko Tipsarevic 6-7 (5), 6-2, 7-6 (7) in a match that took nearly 2 hours, 45 minutes.
Second-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic will take on local favorite Kei Nishikori, the eighth seed, later Friday in another quarterfinal, while Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus will meet qualifier Dmitry Tursunov of Russia in the other.
Murray broke Wawrinka in the opening game of the match, but had to battle to hold serve in the next game, staving off three break points before finally going up 2-0.
Murray, who beat Wawrinka in the first round on the way to winning the gold medal at the London Games, came to the net successfully several times in the first set and broke again with an overhead smash after a lengthy rally to take a 4-1 lead. He closed out the set 6-2 with an ace.
Wawrinka, ranked 16th, broke Murray in the fourth game of the second set to move ahead 3-1 and then held serve to take the set 6-3. Playing primarily from the baseline, Wawrinka blasted several winners to level the match.
In the deciding set, Murray broke in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead, after Wawrinka staved off three break points. Murray's deep returns and some timely passing shots proved decisive in the final set as he closed out the match with another break.
Raonic closed his hard-fought victory with his 24th ace of the contest. The match was just his second against Tipsarevic, with the first being a similarly closely contested match in Chennai earlier this year.