Top-seeded Andy Murray advanced to his 12th semifinal of the season by defeating John Isner of the United States 6-1, 6-3 at the Erste Bank Open on Friday.
Murray, who won the event in 2014, will play defending champion David Ferrer for a place in Sunday’s final. Another former champion, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, will take on eighth-seeded Ivo Karlovic in the other semifinal.
Murray beat Ferrer for the title two years ago, and also defeated the Spaniard in the semifinal on his way to winning to the title at Beijing three weeks ago.
The second-ranked Scot conceded just one point on serve in the opening set. Usually relying on his big serve, Isner hit only three aces and won less than half of the points in his own games in the first set.
Isner had treatment for blisters in his right hand early in the second set, got three break points on Murray’s serve at 3-1, but failed to threaten the Scot’s dominating win.
“(Isner’s injury) obviously helped me as from the back of the court he wasn’t really generating much power with his forehand,” said Murray, who improved to 7-0 against the 27th-ranked American.
“I was then able to dictate most points from the back of the court. I think I returned pretty good, though. It was important to put him under a bit of pressure especially from the beginning of the match.”
Ferrer held off a match point and won the last four games to beat Serbia’s Viktor Troicki 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.
The 19th-ranked Spaniard and Troicki had one service break each as they shared the first two sets. Troicki missed a match point on Ferrer’s serve at 5-3 in the third and didn’t win another game. He saved three match points for Ferrer at 6-5 before the Spaniard converted his fourth chance with a forehand winner.
“There were a lot of rallies. It was a good match,” said Ferrer, who complained about muscle cramps in his left leg. “Viktor played some very good tennis in the first two sets. On the important points I was a bit more aggressive and lucky.”
Ferrer has played at least one final in each of the past 11 seasons, but has yet to reach one this year.
Earlier, Tsonga defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain 6-2, 7-6 (5) for his third semifinal appearance of the season. The 15th-ranked Frenchman lost the previous two, in Auckland and Monte Carlo.
Sixth-seeded Tsonga, who won the event in 2011, failed to score a point while serving at 5-1 but broke again to close out the first set, and converted his third match point in the second-set tiebreaker.
The 21st-ranked Karlovic used one of his 29 aces to save a match point before beating Karen Khachanov of Russia 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-3.
Karlovic, who won titles in Newport and Los Cabos, advanced to his sixth semifinal of the season.