Clinical Murray brushes Lopez aside

By Mitch Phillips

LONDON (Reuters) - Andy Murray reached his third successive Wimbledon semi-final by brushing aside the negligible challenge of weary Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-3 6-4 6-4 on Wednesday to set up another last-four showdown with Rafa Nadal.

Murray, bidding to become the first British men's singles champion at Wimbledon for 75 years, said: "I've played a little bit better every year here.

"I've been beaten in the semis for the past two years and this time I want to go further."

Coming into a near-empty Center Court as the dust settled on Roger Federer's five-set defeat by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the one-sided match struggled to produce much atmosphere despite Murray again carrying the hopes of the host nation.

SUCCESSIVE ACES

Murray looked a little tentative at first but Lopez, who knocked out number eight seed Andy Roddick in the third round, was unable to take advantage as the Scot dropped only four points on his own serve en route to a 40-minute 6-3 success.

Murray did not have to do anything extraordinary as the Spaniard, one of the few players to use serve and volley tactics on a regular basis in this year's tournament, mixed up the occasional eye-catching winner with a string of unforced errors.

The Scot broke in the fifth game of the second set after finding an impossible angle with a lovely two-handed backhand and won that set too at a canter.

Not until the eighth game of the third set did Lopez force his first break points but Murray saved both and went on to finish with a flourish by sending down three successive aces after only two hours of action.

"It was good. I got off to a good start in all of the sets and that helps against someone like Feli because he serves well," Murray said.

Murray, into his third grand slam semi of the year, has won only four of his 15 matches against Nadal who triumphed in last year's semi-final here in straight sets.

"I believe I can win against him," Murray said. "I had chances last year -- I was up a break in the third set and had breakpoint on my serve in the second set. I think there was only one break in the first set. We both played good tennis.

"But I just have to have a better game plan. Sometimes it comes down to strategy. Sometimes it comes down to having more experience. Yeah, just have to go out there and play well and serve well and believe and I'll have a chance.

"I know how difficult it's going to be. I know what the task is. So I'll be ready for it."

(Editing by Ed Osmond)