With that, we bid you adios. Thank you for joining us on an afternoon when Andy Murray's somewhat patchy season continued its autumnal upward curve, and the British number one moved a giant step closer to sealing his place at next month's ATP Finals in London. Don't forget to check back tomorrow to find out whether Murray can claim his third title of the year. Over and out.
- Murray beats Ferrer 6-4 7-5 in Valencia Open semi-final
- Murray will end week at least eighth in qualification places for ATP Finals
- Tommy Robredo v Jeremy Chardy in second semi-final
That has to go down as one of the best performances of Murray's year. He started strongly in the first set, with his forehand firing on all cylinders, then demonstrated huge mental resilience in the second set to withstand a brilliant comeback from Ferrer. That tightens Murray's grip on eighth spot in the Race to London (remember the top nine qualify after Nadal's withdrawal).
And of course, he'll have a terrific chance to take his third title of the year. Next up, he'll take on the the winner of Tommy Robredo v Jeremy Chardy: both fine players, but Murray will be confident of a win.
Murray gifts Ferrer the first point, then hoiks a forehand into the tramlines. 0-30. Murray comes up with an ace, but then Ferrer finds a sharp angle and forces Murray to send a forehand into the bottom of the net. 15-40, two break points. Big first serve from Murray. And this time Murray finds an absolute cracker of a second serve, which Ferrer muffs comically into the stands. Another riveting crosscourt rally, Murray pulls the trigger, but his aim is a little off, into the tramlines. Break point. Ferrer sends a swinging backhand long, takes the towel, screams into the terrycloth. Great first serve from Murray out wide. Match point. Is this it? No! Murray swings a backhand into the tape. Again Murray goes to that wide serve, again Ferrer nets. Match point number two. And this time he finishes the job with a huge roundhouse forehand. A terrific performance from the Scot.
This extraordinary second set takes another unexpected twist. Ferrer looks in control at 30-0. Then Murray throws in a bit of variety, with a drop shot followed by a lob, and gets his reward when the home favourite fires long. Double-fault from Ferrer, he's had too many of those today. The next point is probably the point of the match, as Murray somehow gets a racket on a fizzing Ferrer forehand into the corner, then follows up with an emphatic passing shot. Break point. Another stand-and-trade baseline rally, ended by an absolute cracker of a forehand from Ferrer. Deuce. But this time the Spanaird puts a little too much mustard on the forehand, into the tramlines. Break point. Ooh, a tired backhand slice, from Murray, halfway down the net. Deuce. Ferrer sprays a forehand into the tramlines. Break point. And Murray has it when Ferrer goes long. Murray will serve for the match.
Now, what is Murray made of? He goes toe-to-toe with Ferrer in yet another punishing rally, and wins the opening point when he shaves the line with a forehand, confirmed by the video review. A Ferrer error gives him 30-0. And then the Scot absolutely flattens an inside-out forehand. Great shot. Ferrer hits the net. Terrific, teak-tough hold from Murray.
Murray takes the opening point, then loops a forehand just wide. "I can't run any more," he complains, rather worryingly. He gets very lucky when a swinging two-hander hits the tape and drops in his favour. A mammoth rally, and Murray hits long. 30-30. He repeats the error. Suddenly that towel is seeing a lot of action, the sweat is pouring off Murray, and the frustration is pouring out of him. And then Ferrer pulls off an absolutely miraculous passing shot which hits the top of the net and bounces in. That won't improve the Scot's mood. He'll have to serve to stay in a second set that he was in complete control of.
Murray tries to gee himself up as a good first serve gives him the opening point. Ferrer's in control of the second point, but he misses with an attempted forehand down the line. Ooh, an overrule from the chair umpire in Ferrer's favour. Murray does not like that one bit, but chooses not to challenge. 30-15. The Spaniard is tearing into Murray's second serve like a hungry terrier here, and he draws level with a crunching backhand down the line. Double fault from Murray. Amelie Mauresmo looks on as Murray unleashes a selection of choice words. Break point. Ferrer can't take it though, solid defence at the net from Murray. Ferrer shanks a forehand wide and screams his disapproval. And then the Spaniard puts a smash into the tramlines. Good work from Murray to stop the rot.
Extraordinary. David Ferrer's service arm, which was looking like a malfunctioning pop-gun only minutes ago, is suddenly firing like a howitzer. Roared on by the crowd, the resurgent local hero moves ahead for the first time in this second set.
You have to tip your hat to David Ferrer, he is a phenomenal competitor. The Spaniard sends a second-serve return scorching past Murray, and then forces him to go long. Suddenly the Scot, who looked fresh as a daisy in the first set, seems to be feeling the effects of his exertions over the past few weeks. He manages an excellent volley, but follows it up with another weary forehand miss. Break point, and Ferrer scents blood here. A punishing rally, and Murray whips another forehand over the baseline. Ferrer has recovered the double break.
The chuntering and stroppy body language is never far away with Murray, and it's back in force as Ferrer goes to 30-15. Murray gets back on level terms when he makes an excellent volley at full stretch, but then the Scot goes long. More chuntering. Now it's Ferrer's turn to berate himself though, a baby's cry distracts him and he double-faults. Deuce. But Murray goes long with a forehand, and then Ferrer draws whoops of approval from the crowd with an ace down the T.
What's Spanish for 'don't count your chickens before they hatch?' Murray seems to be cruising at 30-15, but a couple of poor forehands into the tramlines give Ferrer break point, and he takes it when Murray nets a forehand. Not for nothing is Ferrer renowned as one of the gutsiest opponents on Tour, and he's back in this second set.
'The Wall' is crumbling here. Two poor errors give Murray 0-30, and then Ferrer puts a little too much into a ripping forehand. 0-40, three break points. Ferrer saves one, make that two as Murray finds the tape after a lengthy rally. No tantrums form the Scot though, who has been impressively composed so far. He shows a bit of frustration now though, as a careless return flies long,. Deuce. Has Murray let Ferrer out of jail? Has he heck. The Spaniard nets with a drop shot, then sends a forehand into the net. Is that adios David?
Murray's serve is working like a well-oiled machine this afternoon. Some booming deliveries keep Ferrer at bay in this game, and Murray seals it with a huge swinging forehand. The Spaniard is sinking fast - he's in need of some inspiration from the crowd here.
Murray is playing Ferrer at his own game here: chasing everything down, sending groundstrokes back with metronomic efficiency. A brilliant leaping forehand wins Ferrer one lengthy rally, but it's Murray who comes out on top in the next two. Break point. And Murray gets it when Ferrer nets. The Scot glares his approval - he means business today.
Murray made an even more impressive start against Ferrer in Shanghai two weeks ago but faded in the second and third sets, and he edged out the Spaniard in an exhausting decider in Vienna last week, so there could be plenty more to come here. Of encouragement to Murray is the fact that his often vulnerable second serve was solid at 63% points won.
The rallies are growing longer here as both men find their range. It's Murray who blinks first on the first point. 0-15. But Murray's in no mood to rally on the next point, he follows up with a booming ace out wide. Another huge serve from Murray, and he wins the point with a clinical volley. 30-15. But then Murray chucks in a tight-looking double-fault. Another attritional rally, and again Murray's backhand misfires. Break point. But Murray finds a huge serve, and then wallops a drive volley past his stranded opponent. And another huge ace down the tee! Nerveless stuff from the Scot. Set point. Ferrer lands a lob on the line, fights his way into the rally, but eventually he dollies a forehand into the tramlines. A great set from Murray.
Ferrer is definitely growing into this contest though. The Spaniard's serve is starting to click here, and he rattles through a no-nonsense hold to love. Murray will have to serve it out.
Finally Ferrer makes some impression on the Murray serve. The Scot looks in control at 40-15, but Ferrer puts some real grunt into his groundstrokes and Murray nets. And the scampering Spaniard forces Murray to find the tape again after another energy-sapping rally. Deuce. But Ferrer floats a backhand slice long, that's criminal, and then misses with a pass. Murray off the hook.
We have our first challenge and it's a real marginal call, a line-shaver in Ferrer's favour. 30-15. That's followed by probably the longest rally of the match so far, which Murray eventually wins with an elegant forehand into the corner. 30-30. A good serve from Ferrer gets him out of trouble though. And there's another from the Spaniard. Juego Ferrer.
Ferrer shakes his head and grumbles to himself as he takes his towel. The Spaniard gifts Murray a love hold with couple of poor shots into the net.
Ferrer definitely isn't firing on all cylinders yet, and Murray is putting the Spaniard's second serve under real pressure. A terrific return sets up a well-constructed point which Murray wins with a classic backhand-forehand one-two punch, and then Ferrer over-compensates and throws in another double fault. 15-30. Ferrer recovers, but Murray gets to deuce when Ferrer nets with a forehand. The Spaniard wriggles free though, when Murray nets a backhand and sends a forehand long.
Murray showing no signs of fatigue from yesterday's exertions so far. He's timing the ball really well in the early exchanges here. The Scot seals another comfortable hold with a crunching backhand into the corner.
So what do we know about David Ferrer? The 32-year-old is one of Murray's big rivals for a place in London - he's currently ninth in the standings.
He and Murray will be sick of the sight of each other by now. They've already met twice in the last three weeks, with Ferrer winning in Shanghai and Murray prevailing in the Vienna Open Final.
While Murray looked a little weary inseeing off Kevin Anderson yesterday, former French Open finalist Ferrer was mighty impressive in dispatching the in-form Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci, barely working up a sweat in a 6-1 6-2 victory.
That's better from the home favourite. Ferrer picks a superb drop volley off his toes to go to 30-15, and then hammers a forehand down the line when Murray advances to the net. Murray whacks a forehand way wide, and the Spaniard is on the board.
A blink-and-you-miss-it service hold from Murray. A fine crosscourt forehand takes him to 30-0, and a Ferrer error and an ace give him the game.
Well, well, that's a handy start for Murray. A very weary service game from Ferrer, who throws in two double faults either side of an absolutely sizzling passing shot from Murray. An early boost for the Scot.
So what exactly does Murray have to do to make the ATP's end-of-year shindig at the O2? Here's the deal: afterRafa Nadal's withdrawal last night, there are now six players competing for four spots at the World Tour Finals. Murray is currently eighth in the standings, with the top nine to qualify. That's the good news.
Here's the bad news. If Murray loses today, he will drop to ninth, and will only be 135 points ahead of tenth placed Milos Raonic with one event to come. That event is the Paris Masters, where Murray has been handed the mother of all bad draws. He's seeded to meet his Wimbledon conqueror Grigor Dimitrov in the last 16, then Novak Djokovic in the quarters.
Welcome to live text commentary of the Valencia Open semi-final, with Andy Murray taking on David Ferrer. The stakes are high for the British number one. Defeat today would be a massive setback in his bid to join the world's other top players at the ATP World Tour Finals in London next month - a tournament that Murray hasn't failed to qualify for since 2007 (though he did miss last year's Finals through injury).
In his way is David Ferrer - a Spaniard so dogged, so determined, so downright impenetrable, that they call him 'The Wall'. He's playing in his hometown, and he's won this tournament three times before.
Make no mistake, Murray has his work cut out this afternoon.
Quarter-final misery at Wimbledon. A barren run at the year's other Grand Slams. A split with his inspirational coach Ivan Lendl. His lowest ranking in six years. A minor hoohah over his support for Scottish independence. And of course, the indignity of watching his mother get dragged around the dancefloor by Anton du Beke live on Saturday night television.
Yes, it's been a year to forget for Andy Murray. But it could be about to get much, much worse.