ATP Paris: Andy Murray closes in on the number one ranking with a battling win over Tomas Berdych

Second seed Andy Murray increased his chances of becoming world number one with a tough 7-6(9), 7-5 win over Tomas Berdych in the BNP Paribas Masters quarterfinals. Murray will now face Milos Raonic, with a place at the top of the rankings and final at stake.

Both players were extremely impressive on serve in the first set, with nothing separating them as they headed into a tiebreak. Berdych cruised to a 6-1 lead in the breaker, but Murray stormed back, saving a total of seven set points to take the intense tiebreak 11-9. The first break of the match went Murray's way at the beginning of the second set. The Brit cruised through on serve until serving for the match at 5-4, where Berdych bounced back to break for the first time and bring them back level. Murray recovered and stole back the lead immediately, and didn't make the same mistake as the first time, serving out the match to go one win away from becoming world number one.

Impenetrable serving 

Murray served well and came through a quick hold to begin the match. Berdych followed with a good hold of his own, hitting two scorching forehands on his way to leveling the pair up early.  Another quick hold came for Murray as Berdych wasn't able to find any rhythm on the return and an easy love hold took the Brit to a 2-1 lead.  

Two forehand errors came for Berdych as he found himself in a 0-30 hole. Two huge first serves got him out of danger on the way to an impressive hold. The Czech was still having no luck on the return, though, his only point in the next game coming with the help of a double fault from Murray. Danger followed for Berdych as he hit two double faults in the next game but he came out on top of a twenty-four stroke rally to get back on track and seal another great hold. 

Murray reaches for the ball (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Murray reaches for the ball (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Both men continued to look solid on serve as they each came through another easy hold to bring them to 4-4. Berdych fired a perfect forehand return winner but Murray replied with an ace as he flew through another service game. 

The drop shot was working well for Murray so far but the Czech came through another emphatic hold while serving to stay in the set. A better return game from Berdych left him with opportunities at deuce but the Brit came through the first real battle on serve so far in the match as his opponent followed to leave the pair in a tiebreak. 

An overhead winner gave Murray the first point of the breaker. Berdych followed by hammering down an ace and lead 2-1. Excellent defense was quickly turned into offense as the Czech pummeled another forehand winner followed by a return winner to take a two mini-break lead. The forehand continued to fire as he secured five set points at 6-1. Murray quickly erased two with huge serves and as Murray took control from the baseline on return, Berdych lost the rhythm on his forehand as three straight mishits tied them up at 6-6. Murray hit an excellent forehand of his own to secure himself a set point. A gutsy second serve from Berdych and a missed return from Murray erased it and the Czech held on to the next point to bring up set point number six. Berdych managed to chase down a drop shot from Murray but wasn't able to control it and left them tied at 8-8. A horrific double fault from Murray gave Berdych the mini-break and the Czech was in control on set point but a forehand hit the net and sent the ball long to again erase the lead. It was Berdych's turn to hit a double fault and this time the lead wasn't recovered and Murray fired a forehand winner to secure the dramatic tiebreak and a one set lead after over an hour of play.  

Fighting for victory

The first break point of the match came after one hour and twelve minutes of play as Murray pounced on return to push Berdych back. A big return saved the first but Murray earned himself a second and took the first break of the match to get the second set off to the perfect start. The Brit then consolidated the break with a quick love hold as he raced to a 2-0 lead. Berdych refocused in his next service game, taking a love hold to get back on track, but still trailing by a break.  

The Czech battled from 40-0 to deuce in an attempt to steal back Murray's lead but a couple of loose shots gave Murray the hold, with Berdych still looking to earn his first break point.  Murray pressured his opponent on return again with his incredible returning troubling Berdych, but the Czech survived the pressure to hold on and stay within a break.   

Murray in action during the match (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Murray in action during the match (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Another shared couple of easy holds each left Murray serving for the match. Berdych changed up his tactics, rushing into the net and pressuring Murray as he took a lead on return. Deep hitting finished off with another huge forehand winner and a great return left Berdych with three break points to get back into the match. Great serves from Murray saved the first two but a forehand miss gave Berdych the third and the late break back.  

A loose error followed by a double fault gave Murray a 0-30 lead on the return as he tried to take the lead back straight away. Berdych held the next point but outrageous defense from Murray brought up two break points to go back ahead. The break was gifted as Berdych faltered and double faulted to give Murray the chance to serve for the match again. This time Murray served well to cruise to 40-0 on serve, but Berdych tried to fight his way back as he fought to 40-30. A great pickup from Berdych left Murray in danger at deuce but he brought out two massive serves when he needed them most to seal the victory and a place in the semifinals.