Andy Murray lifted his level after a close call the night before as he defeated Alejandro Falla 7-6 (7-3), 6-1 on Friday to move into the semifinals of the Farmers Classic.

Falla, the 65th-ranked Colombian who stood close to 200th a season ago, enhanced his reputation at Wimbledon when he served for a first round victory but lost his nerve against Roger Federer.

Murray needed 63 minutes to claim a roller-coaster opening set on another chilly night in LA, saving a pair of Falla set points before clinching the opener with an ace on his own first chance.

The Scot number four found his rhythm for a 4-1 second set lead and produced his 24th win of the season. He fired a forehand winner on his second match point to go through in just over 90 minutes with 27 winners and five breaks of serve.

“It was a good match but a tricky win,” said Murray. “Alejandro’s a tough opponent, he’s been playing well the past few months. I played well today, but conditions were tough.

“I hit a lot of balls into the net, it felt a bit slow out here.

But I love playing on hard-court in the run-up to the US Open.” Murray suffered from stiffness and lower back pain in his match on Thursday but showed no signs of fitness problems as he picked up the pace to victory with his lightning second set.

The 23-year-old admitted to some minor right knee pain, but put it down to the change on surface. “There’s a huge difference between grass and hard, it was a bit sore but I’m sure it will be OK tomorrow.” Murray next plays Spain’s Feliciano Lopez, a 3-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 winner over US favourite James Blake.

Holder Sam Querrey, disgusted with the poor state of his serve, avoided a quarterfinal defeat as German Rainer Schuettler failed twice to serve out a potential upset.

The American second seed spent a tense two hours, 20 minutes before escaping 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4) over the 34-year-old Schuettler, whom he beat in the Queen’s club semifinals on the way to that grass title.

“I was frustrated the whole time, I only played well when he was serving for the match,” complained Querrey. “I was trying to keep my game under control.

“I really was a head case out there, I was not enjoying it at all and just wanted to get off the court.” He will face sixth seed Janko Tipsarevic, who beat number three Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 7-5, coming from a break down and breaking in the penultimate game as Baghdatis fired two double-faults.

Keywords: Farmers Classic

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