Murray’s win makes it only the 12th time the top four players have made the semifinals of a Grand Slam tournament in the open era.
There were some concerns before the match about Murray’s injured ankle, and that may be why he got off to another slow start.
Chela broke Murray twice to gain a 4-0 lead, but Murray broke back. Although his play improved as the set progressed, it almost wasn’t enough, as he faced two set points at 3-5. At 15-40, Chela narrowly missed what would have been a backhand winner, and Murray played a gutsy drop shot to get back to deuce.
Both players fought to a tiebreaker, which Murray dominated.
The momentum from winning the first set carried the world No. 4 to 5-2, but Chela broke him twice to draw even.
Chela may have expended all of his energy drawing level, because he won only two more games in the rest of the match.
He may have run out of steam because he played two five-set matches earlier in the tournament, including his almost four-hour victory against Alejandro Falla in the fourth round.
Neither player served consistently: Murray had a 52 percent first percentage, while Chela got 63 percent of his first serves in but won only 55 percent of those points.
Because both players struggled on serve, there were a total of 13 breaks of serve in the match, with Murray claiming eight.
The Scot did play a more aggressive match, hitting 59 winners to unforced errors, compared to Chela’s 27 winners and 35 unforced errors.
Yet Murray had a low first-serve percentage at 52 percent, which may explain why Chela managed five breaks of serve.
The Scot’s next opponent is World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, the five-time French Open champion. Nadal has a 10-4 record against Murray and has won all three of their previous clay-court encounters.
Murray did take a set from Nadal at this year’s ATP Masters tournament in Monte Carlo, but unless he improves his first-serve percentage, he will struggle against the Spaniard.
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