Andy Murray downs Fish to move into final
Andy Murray overcame the in-form Mardy Fish to move into the final of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
In the face of a partisan crowd who were all hoping for Fish to succeed, Murray showed greater power and enviable resolve in sweltering conditions to move into the final, eventually running out a 6-2 7-6(8) winner.
It remains to be the seen the effect the victory has taken on the Scot's body, however, after two hours and 18 minutes in the hottest of the day's weather. Murray has played all his games this week in such conditions, and was clearly fighting against fatigue as Saturday's contest wore on.
"It's just brutal conditions, I need to get stronger," Murray said afterwards. "I haven't played many matches recently and this was the first really long one I've played.
"I need to get more endurance in me before the US Open."
Having been in blistering form against Rafael Nadal on Friday, Fish would have been confident of another strong display to move into a home final. But Murray, who claimed this title back in 2008, quickly gained the upper hand in the early exchanges, and eventually grabbed the all-important break to take the opening set - as Fish was unable to take advantage of the fact Murray was clearly beginning to struggle with the conditions.
The second set was a topsy-turvy affair, with both players increasingly faltering on their own serve. Murray looked to be heading for the final when he moved 4-3 ahead on his own serve, the fifth break of the stanza, but Fish immediately hit back to prolong the contest.
Both men seemed to tighten up from that point, with Fish fighting back from 0-40 in one game to ultimately move things to a tie-break.
That two swung a number of ways, with Fish taking an early mini-break before Murray came back with a vengeance. A first match point was denied by the American, before a rifled forehand down the left sideline appeared to have given Murray victory. But a Hawkeye review revealed the ball had been out by the tiniest of margins, forcing Murray to return and take victory at the third time of asking - as Fish fired well long.
"I was struggling physically early in the second, it was really hot today," Murray said. "I was hitting the ball good from the ground but I need to serve better and work on the strength in my legs."
Murray will now face Novak Djokovic in the final, after his opponent Tomas Berdych retired hurt in their contest. Murray admitted that the Serb was probably his preferred opponent of the two. "It would be good to face Novak to see where my game is right now," he said.