MASON, Ohio (AP) — A 53-shot rally did the trick for Andy Murray.

Murray lost the first set at the Cincinnati Masters and was down 0-2 in the second before winning a 53-shot rally to break Julien Benneteau. Murray, the defending champion, went on to a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 win Friday to reach the semifinals.

“It made a big difference,” Murray said of the long point in windy conditions. “I think he was very tired after that rally, and I managed to stay strong. He only won two games after that.”

The second-ranked Murray will face No. 1 Roger Federer in Saturday’s semifinal. Federer, who won this tournament in 2005 and 2007, extended his winning streak against Lleyton Hewitt to 13 matches with a 6-3, 6-4 win.

Third-ranked and second-seeded Rafael Nadal beat Tomas Berdych 6-4, 7-5, setting up a semifinals rematch with fourth-seeded Novak Djokovic. The fourth-ranked Djokovic, who beat Nadal in straight sets in last year’s Cincinnati semifinal, also won 6-4, 7-5 over No. 9 Gilles Simon.

Murray double-faulted on set point in the first set, during which he had 18 unforced errors after committing just 14 in his two-set win on Thursday.

He broke back in the third game of the second set, winning the grueling rally when Benneteau’s overhead hit the tape and skipped wide.

“That’s probably the longest point I’ve had since I’ve been on the tour,” Murray said. “Your legs start burning. I wasn’t even thinking.”

Benneteau was disappointed because he thought he’d won the point with a huge first serve.

“I thought it was a sure winner,” he said. “I served it wide and strong, and he put the ball very high in the sky. That was a long rally for both of us. For sure, it would have been better for me if I win that point and go on to make it 3-0.”

Murray cut his unforced errors to 15 in winning the last two sets against the 55th-ranked Benneteau, who lost in the final round of last weekend’s qualifier for the $3 million Western & Southern Financial Group Masters. He got into the main draw when sixth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro withdrew.

Benneteau became the first so-called “lucky loser” to reach the tournament’s quarterfinals since Alex O’Brien in 1994.

“Once you get in as a lucky loser, you don’t have much to lose,” Murray said. “Quite often, they do well.”

Federer controlled the match with his serve. He served 11 aces to Hewitt’s two, never faced a break point, and won a staggering 89 percent of his first-serve points.

“That comes in handy against Lleyton,” Federer said. “If he gets his teeth into your serve, it can get quite tricky. For this reason, you know, I’m really pleased with the way it went. Conditions were difficult again. The winds were gusty this time around. Yesterday, it was a bit more predictable, but stronger. It’s a good match to come through.”

Hewitt wasn’t as concerned as much about his losing streak against Federer as he was with preparing for the U.S. Open, which starts on Aug. 31.

“I was more not worrying about Roger’s game too much and going out there and trying to execute my game, still with the U.S Open in the back of my mind as well,” said Hewitt, who won three matches to reach the quarterfinals. “I was more focused today on trying to keep my rhythm going that I built us this week, instead of actually worrying about Roger’s game too much — especially a week out before a Slam.”

Murray owns a 6-2 lead in his series against Federer. Their matchup is Cincinnati’s first between the first- and second-ranked players.

“Playing against a fellow top player is always a thrill,” Federer said. “I think we work really hard inthe off-season so we can either play the top guys or we’re deep into a tournament. With Andy, you definitely have that type of matchup.”

“I’ve beaten him quite a few times, and I enjoy playing against him,” Murray said. “I understand it’s going to be a very difficult match. I just look forward to the challenge of playing one of the best ever.”

Nadal’s only two service breaks came on Berdych’s first and last service games. After Nadal broke Beerdych to open the match, both players held serve until Berdych lost a challenge to set up a break point in the 11th game of the second set. Nadal converted, passing Berdych with a crosscourt forehand, before holding to advance.

Nadal, playing just his second tournament since the French Open due to tendinitis in both knees, declared himself “very happy” with his progress.

“I’m improving every day a little bit more,” Nadal said. “This was a very good win for me. When I arrived here, I didn’t expect to be in (the semifinal). Being in the semifinal is perfect for me. It will make me more confident for the U.S. Open.”


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