MASON, Ohio (AP)
— A 53-shot rally did the trick for Andy Murray.
Murray lost the first set at the Cincinnati Masters and was down 0-2 in the second before winning a 53-shot rally to break Julien Benneteau. Murray, the defending champion, went on to a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 win Friday to reach the semifinals.
“It made a big difference,” Murray said of the long point in windy conditions. “I think he was very tired after that rally, and I managed to stay strong. He only won two games after that.”
The second-ranked Murray will face No. 1 Roger Federer in Saturday’s semifinal. Federer, who won this tournament in 2005 and 2007, extended his winning streak against Lleyton Hewitt to 13 matches with a 6-3, 6-4 win.
Murray double-faulted on set point in the first set, during which he had 18 unforced errors after committing just 14 in his two-set win on Thursday.
He broke back in the third game of the second set, winning the grueling rally when Benneteau’s overhead hit the tape and skipped wide.
“That’s probably the longest point I’ve had since I’ve been on the tour,” Murray said. “Your legs start burning. I wasn’t even thinking.”
Benneteau was disappointed because he thought he’d won the point with a huge first serve.
“I thought it was a sure winner,” he said. “I served it wide and strong, and he put the ball very high in the sky. That was a long rally for both of us. For sure, it would have been better for me if I win that point and go on to make it 3-0.”
Murray cut his unforced errors to 15 in winning the last two sets against the 55th-ranked Benneteau, who lost in the final round of last weekend’s qualifier. But he got into the main draw when sixth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro withdrew.
Benneteau became the first so-called “lucky loser” to reach the tournament’s quarterfinals since Alex O’Brien in 1994.
“Once you get in as a lucky loser, you don’t have much to lose,” Murray said. “Quite often, they do well.”