Murray plans to up game against Federer

Andy Murray is confident he will have little problem in stepping up his performance level for tomorrow’s Australian Open semi-final against Roger Federer, despite his low-key passage to the last four.

Murray plans to up game against Federer

Murray has barely broken sweat in advancing to his fourth successive Melbourne semi, although he turned in a much-improved display against big-hitting Jeremy Chardy yesterday.

He accepts, though, that he will need to play better still against the 17-time major winner, who came through a tough five-setter against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, with a place in Sunday’s final at stake.

“I think you have to trust yourself that when you are tested you’re going to play better tennis,” he said.

“You never know for sure but in the build-up to the tournament I played very well. I haven’t lost a set here yet so maybe I am expecting to play too well. But I’ve done a good job so far in this tournament.

“I can’t be disappointed with where my game’s at and I hope in the next round I play better again.”

Having come through a flat, lifeless contest against a fatigued Gilles Simon on Monday, the encounter with Chardy was, at least, competitive.

But US Open champion Murray was never seriously threatened by the world number 36 and came through 6-4 6-1 6-2 in one hour 51 minutes.

“I thought I started the match pretty well,” said Murray, who is bidding to become the first man in the Open era to follow up his first grand slam triumph by also winning the next major.

“Then when he got the break back in the first set I got a bit tight. He’s a tough guy to play against because of the nature of his game and his style.”

Federer dropped his first sets at this year’s Open – but it did not stop him from muscling his way into the semi-final against Murray.

The Swiss was handed his first significant test of the tournament against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga but came through 7-6 (7/4) 4-6 7-6 (7/4) 3-6 6-3.

“It was tough the whole match. Any set could have gone either way,” Federer said.” It was tough because you never know what Jo-Wilfried is going to come up with. I feel a bit lucky to come through.”

As for playing Murray, the 31-year-old added: “I’ve got to recover a little but I’m going to be fine – I’m young, I recover quick.

“I’m looking forward to the match. It’s going to be tough. He had a great year last year, winning his first grand slam and Olympic gold.

“He is a great guy and a great player.”

Meanwhile Serena Williams claimed she was “almost relieved it’s over” after an injury-plagued campaign ended at the hands of teenage prodigy Sloane Stephens.

Williams suffered a twisted ankle in her opening-round whitewash of Edina Gallovits-Hall and then saw her hopes of advancing to a semi-final meeting with Victoria Azarenka compromised yesterday by a lower back problem sustained in the second set.

At the time, she was in front and looking good to secure a place in the last four in Melbourne for the sixth time but Stephens made the most of her good fortune to go through 3-6 7-5 6-4.

Asked if it was the worst two weeks she had ever had at a grand slam, Williams said: “At a grand slam, absolutely.

“I’m almost relieved it’s over because there’s only so much I felt I could do.

“It has been difficult. I have been thrown a lot of balls this week.”

To focus solely on Williams would be unfair on Stephens, however.

The 19-year-old from Florida showed remarkable poise in her first grand slam quarter-final to come through against her fellow American and childhood hero.

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