(Reuters) - Andy Murray, Britain’s great grand slam hope, could be forgiven for thinking he had dodged a bullet with Rafa Nadal’s shock Australian Open exit.
But fifth seed Murray, beaten by Roger Federer in last year’s final, will not be underestimating Nadal’s conqueror David Ferrer when they meet in Friday’s semi-final, despite the Spaniard’s cause being aided by an injury to his opponent.
The winner faces Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final after the third seed knocked out defending champion Roger Federer 7-6 7-5 6-4 in the first semi-final.
Ferrer’s 6-4 6-2 6-3 win over world number one Nadal came mainly as a result of a hamstring tweak suffered by his compatriot after just three games.
However, the seventh seed remains unbeaten in 2011, having won a warm-up tournament in Auckland, and even a fully fit Nadal would have had his hands full.
“David’s playing a fantastic tournament,” Nadal told reporters. “If he keep playing like this, he has a good chance.
“I would love him to win the tournament. He’s a fantastic guy and a good friend.”
Murray, who also lost to Federer in the 2008 U.S. Open final, played arguably the tournament’s best tennis in blowing Austria’s Juergen Melzer off court in the fourth round.