Oct 12 (Reuters) - Andy Murray remained on course for a hat-trick of titles at the Shanghai Masters despite the best efforts of tricky Czech Radek Stepanek on Friday.
Third seed Murray, still on a high from winning the U.S. Open last month, was out-foxed in the first set by the unorthodox Stepanek before recovering to win 4-6 6-2 6-3.
The Briton will face world number one Roger Federer or Croatia’s Marin Cilic in the semi-finals.
In the bottom half of the draw Tomas Berdych proved too solid for Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, winning 6-3 7-6.
Czech Berdych will play either Novak Djokovic or resurgent German Tommy Haas for a place in Sunday’s final.
Murray met his match early on against Stepanek - a player who relies on crafty angles, changes of pace and razor-sharp volleys to throw opponents off balance.
Stepanek pounced on some loose play from Murray to earn three break points in the fifth game of the opening set and although two were saved the Czech converted the third.
Murray was still struggling to get to grips with his opponent at the start of the second set but his superior firepower eventually paid off when he accelerated from 2-2 to take the match into a decider.
The momentum switched back to Stepanek when he broke to lead 2-1 in the third but Murray responded immediately to level.
The Scot then broke serve in the eighth game before securing victory in two hours 18 minutes.
Earlier in the Qi Zhong Tennis Centre, fourth seed Berdych notched up his 53rd victory of the season to reach the semi-finals of the tournament for the first time.
“I think it was a really solid game and solid performance from beginning until the end,” Berdych said.
“I think the biggest difference between me and Jo was I was able to take the small chances during the first and especially the second set. It was not many of them, but I was able to keep it and convert it on my side.” (Writing by Martyn Herman in London; Editing by Clare Fallon)