By Aidan Elder | Chief sports writer
Murray record v Berdych – P6 W2 L4
- on hard courts – P3 W1 L2
- at Grand Slams – P1 W0 L1
- Total games – 80 won, 93 lost
- Total sets – 7 won, 10 lost
The odds say that it’s easy. The history books aren’t so convinced. Andy Murray (25) goes into his US Open semi-final against Tomas Berdych the 4/9 favourite to reach his fifth Grand Slam final, but the Scot’s head to head record versus the Czech player suggests it won’t be that simple.
The pressure on Murray is immense. With Rafael Nadal absent and Roger Federer getting to enjoy a few more days in New York as a tourist than he was planning, the world number four has an excellent chance to get the Major monkey off his back. He has to know what a gilt-edged opportunity this is. Beat Berdych and he’s likely to face Novak Djokovic in the final. Nole hasn’t dropped a set en route to the last four and he’ll be the favourite to retain his title in the decider, but Murray has beaten him often enough to justify a degree of confidence.
Before counting our chickens however, the semi-final needs to be negotiated. Berdych (26) has performed well against Murray in the past, winning four of their six meetings. Sometimes the bare head to head stats hide important details about surfaces, but in this case Berdych has the upper hand, beating Murray in two of their matches on the hard courts, He has won comfortably more games and sets than Murray over the course of their rivalry
This match is likely to be very close. Like Tim Henman’s trophy cabinet, there won’t be much in it. Berdych is a tricky and powerful opponent and Murray will need to at his excessive fist-pumping best to go through. If he has a bad day at the office, the world number seven is good enough to caplitalise, as he showed by dumping Roger Federer out at the quarter-final stage in four sets.
Four of their six previous meetings have gone to the deciding set and that looks like a distinct possibility this time around. Murray to win in five sets is 5/1 whilst anyone who thinks he’ll be more Scottish than British by tomorrow morning might like a piece of Berdych to win in five at 6/1.
Murray’s progress hasn’t been serene, but you could argue that’s a positive. In other tournaments he has coasted through only to be underdone by the time he faces the big boys. This time he has had to fight and come through some stern examinations to claim his place in the last four. On the flipside however, anyone who’s not a Murray fan or a blood relation may choose to see it as evidence that he’s simply not playing to a high enough standard and is there for the taking.
Not for the first time, there’s a real chance of Murray Flushing a nation’s hopes down the toilet.