Andy Murray reaches Shanghai Masters semi-finals

Andy Murray
Murray has won 23 of his past 24 matches and is chasing a 21st career title

British number one Andy Murray remains on course for a third title in a row after beating Australian qualifier Matthew Ebden 6-3 6-2 in the quarter-finals of the Shanghai Masters.

The defending champion, who has already secured titles in Japan and Thailand this month, won seven games in a row from the middle of the first set.

Ebden tried to fight back but Murray sealed his place in the semi-finals.

The second seed will now face Japan's Kei Nishikori on Saturday.

Third seed David Ferrer will take on his Spanish compatriot Feliciano Lopez in the other semi-final.

Murray failed to take four break points in the fifth game before finally breaking the Australian's serve in the seventh game of the first set.

The world number four then raced through the next six games, winning the first set in the process, before Ebden managed to end the Scot's impressive run.

Ebden, 23, stuck at it but could not match the power and variety of Murray's serve and groundstrokes.

Victory - Murray's 52nd of the year - was completed after one hour and 24 minutes on court.

Afterwards, the 24-year-old Scot admitted that the changeable weather conditions on court had hindered him.

"Sometimes it happens in matches where you don't necessarily feel that comfortable," he said.

"It's the first time I've played outdoors [in Shanghai] and it's changed the conditions a lot - I felt a little tentative.

"I served very well for the most part, I didn't give him many opportunities on my serve and created a lot of chances on his so I can't be too disappointed.

"I think if I was a little bit looser I could have got a few more breaks."

Ferrer moved into the semi-finals with a hard-fought 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 7-6 (7-2) win over American Andy Roddick while Lopez overcame Germany's Florian Mayer, who knocked out top seed Rafael Nadal 6-2 6-4 on Thursday.

Nishikori, ranked 47 in the world, advanced with a 6-4 6-3 win over Alexandr Dolgopolov, the 12th seed from Ukraine.

Murray's former coach Brad Gilbert trains Nishikori, 21, who is having his best season on tour, reaching one final and four semi-finals.

He said Gilbert's instruction had been key to improving his game and believes the American's inside knowledge could help him against Murray..

"He teaches me how the top players play, and how I need to play, so it is helping me a lot," saud Nishikori.

"Andy has won two tournaments in a row, and beaten Nadal (in Japan). It's going to be tough. I've never played him but I'm going to ask my coach. He knows a lot of things."

But Murray played down Gilbert's influence, saying: "Whatever Brad says, I learnt quite a lot from him, and hopefully I'll be able to use some of the things I learnt against Kei."

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