MASON, Ohio – and didn't like the finish, either.
Playing his eighth match in 10 days — all in the afternoon — the exhausted 23-year-old Scot had enough left in the tank to force two tiebreakers, but not enough to finish the job. The fourth-seeded Murray fell to unseeded Mardy Fish 6-7 (7), 6-1, 7-6 (5) in a match that lasted 2 hours, 56 minutes — the tournament's longest — on a court where the temperature reached an even 100 degrees.
"In the third set, I wasn't really using my legs at all on my serve," said Murray, who needed cooling treatment, including rubdowns on both legs, during many changeovers. "It was all arm. Every time there was a long point, I felt tired for two or three points afterward. When you get to the end of the match, you just try to finish as best you can."
Murray asked tournament officials after his match on Thursday if he could play Friday's night match. He even volunteered to play on a secondary court. Instead, he and Fish were scheduled to play the first match.
"They said that, because Fish had to play doubles, they wanted us to play early, but I'm not sure that's the way tennis works," Murray said. "I don't think matches should be scheduled around the doubles, because it's the singles that's on the TV."
Fish will meet Andy Roddick in the tournament's first all-American semifinal since Roddick lost 7-5, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (2) to Andre Agassi in 2004. The ninth-seeded Roddick eliminated No. 2-seeded Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-5 on Friday.
Defending-champion Roger Federer finally played a full match at the $2.4 million Western & Southern Financial Group Masters, knocking off sixth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko 6-4, 7-5. The third-seeded Federer, a three-time champion, played just seven games in his first match before Denis Istomin retired with an ankle injury. His next opponent, Philipp Kohlschreiber, withdrew with a shoulder injury before their round of 16 match.
Fish had little sympathy for Murray, suggesting that those circumstances usually even out.
"I usually like to play the first-up match, because you know exactly when you're going on," he said. "I'm sure there have been times when (Murray) was playing the night match and would like to be done and go to dinner. I can understand where he's coming from, but what can you do? It was bad luck for him today.
"Physically, it was hot, but nowhere near the humidity of, say, D.C. or Atlanta. It was every bit as hot as there. It feels great to win a match like that."
Murray admitted that he considered retiring from the match.
"It does cross your mind a little bit when you're struggling like that, but the doctor and the physio did a good job with the ice and cooling me down a little bit," he said.
Murray took a 4-2 lead in the second tiebreaker. Fish, a 2003 finalist, then won four straight points, the last when Murray sent a forehand passing shot wide and followed it by slamming a ball out of the stadium in frustration.
The 36th-ranked Fish clinched the upset — his third consecutive win over Murray, all this year — when the Scot smacked a forehand into the net. The American is the first unseeded player to reach the Cincinnati semifinals since Lleyton Hewitt in 2007 and the lowest-ranked player to get there since No. 58 Robby Ginepri in 2005.
"It could easily be 1-2," said Fish, now 4-3 in his career against Murray. "I've won two tiebreakers in the third (set). I've had a lot of trouble with him. He serves so well and returns so well that he usually gives aggressive players like me a lot of trouble."
Fish, playing more aggressively than Murray, finished with 14 aces, 50 winners and 34 unforced errors. Murray had eight aces, 30 winners and 24 unforced errors.
Djokovic also was aggressive, hitting 28 winners to Roddick's 15, but the Serb also committed 29 unforced errors to Roddick's 15 while losing for the fourth straight time in their head-to-head meetings.
"I just played a very bad match," Djokovic said. "Every time I needed to play well, I made mistakes, especially on my forehand side. He was getting a lot of balls back — not doing anything special, just making me play extra shots."
The 13th-ranked American couldn't argue.
"Novak probably didn't play his best match," Roddick said. "He was missing balls he normally wouldn't miss. I probably would expect him to play a little better."
Federer squandered two match points in the 10th game of the second set and another in the 12th before moving into the semifinals. He was happy to finally have gotten on to the court.
"It was a bit scary," he said. "You're wondering, 'Do I have enough play on these courts?' It was sort of a relief. That was a tough match for me, but I felt like I played really good, especially since I hadn't played. I tried to play offensively and mix it up — make it hard for him to get some rhythm."