MELBOURNE, January 26 – Andy Murray became the first Briton to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open in 33 years after defending champion Rafael Nadal sensationally withdrew from their quarter-final on Tuesday.The British fifth seed was leading 6-3, 7-6 (7/2), 3-0 at the time the Spanish world number two retired with a right knee injury.
Murray now has a semi-final with Croatia’s Marin Cilic, who earlier eliminated four-time semi-finalist Andy Roddick in five sets.
Murray, bidding to become Britain’s first Grand Slam winner since Fred Perry in 1936, created some history of his own when he became the first Briton since John Lloyd in 1977 to qualify for the Australian Open semis.
"He’s my favourite player to watch just because of what he brings to the court with all his energy and I’m gutted for him," Murray said of Nadal.
"I came through a few tough moments at the start of the match trying to do a little bit too much and I had to keep going with my shots and play the right tactics to win it, but I played pretty well."
The 22-year-old Scot has yet to drop a set after five matches.
He will go into his semi-final against the 14th seeded Cilic after spending only two-and-a-half hours on court against such a physical player as Nadal for a total of 10 hours for the tournament.
Although he did not want to win the way he did, Murray impressed with his shotmaking and strong serving which had given him the edge over Nadal before the premature end.
Murray served 13 aces and won 94 points to 75 and he broke the Spanish left-hander’s service four times and gave up his serve twice.
Both players exchanged service breaks early in the opening set before Murray got the vital second break in the sixth.
The intense Scot withstood three break points before he served out for the opening set in 52 minutes.
It was compelling tennis as the two young lions again exchanged service breaks in the second set only to be interrupted for a time by an Australia Day holiday fireworks display outside the complex.
Nadal fought off four break points in the 11th game during which he brought the crowd to its feet with a fantastic reflex volley to win a point in an exciting rally.
But in the tiebreaker Murray broke clear racing to five set points after two smashes and then taking a two sets to love lead when a Nadal backhand found the net.
Nadal sought a medical timeout after the opening game of the third set and looked concerned as he had physio treatment to his right knee.
The Scot quickly capitalised with another service break for a 2-0 lead as the momentum swung his way before Nadal came to the net after the third game to concede defeat.