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Raonic Ends Murray Campaign, Sets Up Ferrer Clash

Barcelona, Spain

Raonic© Getty ImagesMilos Raonic recorded his first win over a Top 4 player.

World No. 25 Milos Raonic recorded his first Top 4 win on Friday as he defeated Andy Murray 6-4, 7-6(3) to reach his second ATP World Tour clay-court semi-final at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.

"It's very, very difficult and a big plus in confidence for me," said Raonic. "Clay's not his best surface, but he consistently does well on it. Last year he reached the semi-finals at the French Open, Monte-Carlo and Rome, so he can play really well on it. For me, it was a big win, regardless of the surface.

The Canadian dropped just four points on serve in the first set and broke Murray in the seventh game to clinch the opener. He faltered for the only time in the match when serving for victory in the ninth game of the second set, but dominated in the ensuing tie-break to prevail in one hour and 44 minutes. The 6'5'' right-hander fired 14 aces and won 84 per cent of points on his first serve.

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Reflecting on the only time he lost serve in the match, Raonic said, "I was playing really well up till that point. He played really well the next game at 5-5. I didn't really have any opportunities and I was fortunate that I served well again in the next game then played a good tie-break."

The 21-year-old Raonic, named 2011 Newcomer of the Year, has already reached three ATP World Tour finals this season. He lifted the trophies in Chennai (d. Tipsarevic) and San Jose (d. Istomin) and finished runner-up in Memphis (l. to Melzer).

The No. 4-ranked Murray had opened his clay-court campaign last week with a quarter-final showing at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters (l. to Berdych). A winner at the Brisbane International earlier in the year, the Scot dropped to a 21-6 match record on the season.

For a place in his first ATP World Tour clay-court final, the 11th-seeded Raonic will face third seed David Ferrer, who saved three match points to edge fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, the No. 7 seed, 6-7(4), 7-6(7), 6-3 in two hours and 45 minutes.

Ferrer trailed 4-5, 15/40 in the second set and, after rallying to force a tie-break, found himself 1-4 and then 6-7 down. The Valencia resident held on to take the match into a decider and engineered the first service break in the sixth game before going onto serve out victory,

The 30-year-old Ferrer is through to the semi-finals at this ATP World Tour 500 clay-court tournament for the sixth successive year; he went onto reach the final in 2008, 2009 & 2011, falling to Rafael Nadal each time. Ferrer is bidding to win an ATP-best fourth title this season, having already triumphed in Auckland (d. Rochus), Buenos Aires (d. Almagro) and Acapulco (d. Verdasco). He improved to a 27-4 match record on the season.

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