Shanghai: Andy Murray maintained his perfect record at the Shanghai Masters on Friday, recovering from a deficit against unseeded Radek Stepanek to set up an Olympic re-match against Roger Federer in the semi-finals.
The US Open champion, chasing a hat-trick of titles in the eastern Chinese city, was below par in losing the first set to the dangerous Czech, ranked 41, before finding his rhythm to win 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in two hours and 18 minutes.
Federer had an easier time, beating Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-4 while second seed Novak Djokovic cantered to a 6-3, 6-3 win over German veteran Tommy Haas and will meet Tomas Berdych in a semi-final line-up featuring the top four seeds.
"It was quite a scrappy first couple of sets. Obviously the second set I managed to get a break, got a bit of momentum," said Murray. "For me, the beginning of the third set was what was most frustrating."
"Then I just managed to turn it around in time," added the 25-year-old, who won in Shanghai in 2010 and 2011. "I played actually very well I thought the last 10, 15 minutes of the match."
Stepanek, making frequent successful forays to the net, took the first set but Murray, showing his frustration at times, was able to force two breaks of serve to level the match despite being below par.
The 33-year-old Stepanek interrupted Murray's charge, breaking again in the decider but the Scot hit back immediately, winning 20 of the last 25 points to set up another clash with Federer.
The Swiss 17-time Grand Slam champion beat Murray in the Wimbledon final but was demolished by the Scot in the Olympic final, who then went on to win his first major in New York.
Federer, 31, guaranteed a record 300th week as world number one when the next rankings are published on Monday, saw off the challenge of 10th seed Cilic of Croatia with few problems.
In-form second seed Djokovic, who has his eyes firmly fixed on dislodging Federer from the top of the rankings as he approaches the last few weeks of the season, was also impressive.
"I feel good. I've been winning a lot of matches in the last period, so it's something that is always welcome when you want to have confidence, when you want to feel good about yourself on the court," said the Serbian, 25.
"I try not to think about the long season that is behind me. There are still couple of big tournaments, including this one, where I want to do well."
Djokovic will play fourth seed Tomas Berdych in the last four, who came out on top against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a battle between two of the contenders to reach next month's ATP World Tour Finals.
The Czech grabbed a crucial break against the powerful Frenchman in the eighth game of the first set and edged the second set tie-break to win 6-3, 7-6 (7/4).
With four berths still up for grabs at the elite eight-man showpiece in the UK's capital, Berdych, 27, is sixth in the Race to London while Tsonga, also 27, is in eighth spot.
Federer, Djokovic and Murray have already qualified for London, along with the injured Rafael Nadal.