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Murray Saves 2 M.P. To Beat Isner In Cincinnati

Cincinnati, U.S.A.

Murray© Getty ImagesAndy Murray improves to a 3-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against John Isner.

John Isner had upset three Top 10 players to reach the final last year at the Western & Southern Open. On Thursday, he came close to adding another Top 10 victory to his Cincinnati tally.

The top American held two match points against World No. 9 Andy Murray in the 12th game of the third set, only to fall to the two-time champion 6-7(3), 6-4, 7-6(2) after two hours and 23 minutes. The 11th-seeded Isner, who fired 21 aces during the third-round match, double-faulted on Murray’s first match point.

"I just managed to find a way to get through that game," Murray said of facing two match points. "I hit some good passing shots. I was hitting the ball very clean for the majority of the match. I wasn't mis-hitting many balls. When I was getting into rallies I was able to dictate a lot of the points, but in that game in particular it was just instincts, really."

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The 27-year-old Scot, the 2008 and '11 Cincinnati champion, will next face five-time titlist Roger Federer, who defeated Frenchman Gael Monfils 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in the night session. Murray leads Federer 11-10 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, but dropped their most recent meeting in the Australian Open quarter-finals.

"It can be a perfect test," said Murray. "The US Open is just 10 days away, and normally against him you'll see exactly where your game is at."

Murray is looking to reach his first tour-level final since undergoing minor back surgery in September, with his last triumph coming a few months earlier at Wimbledon.

"I had lost a few close matches, matches like that over the last few months, so it was important for me to come through," he said. "I want to play a lot of matches just now. I want to get back to winning events and being in the finals of the big tournaments, and winning matches like today is a big step for me."

Isner had won the first tournament of the Emirates Airline US Open Series, successfully defending his Atlanta crown, before falling in his opening matches in Washington, D.C., and Toronto. He will return to the court next week at his hometown tournament, the Winston-Salem Open.

"I thought I played those points the right way, so there's really no regrets," Isner said of his two match points. "I thought I played pretty well and I thought he played well. There are certainly some things I could have done better, as in any match you play, but he was better at the end. He kept his cool the whole match. It's a tough one, but it happens, and I gotta move on."

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