Andy Murray celebrates after defeating Tomas Berdych in the U.S. Open semifinals. (Emmanuel Dunand / AFP/Getty…)
NEW YORK -- Andy Murray, trying to become the first British-born man since 1938 to win a Grand Slam tournament, overcame a 1-hour, 15-minute rain delay, a tornado that touched down in nearby Queens and winds gusting to 30 mph Saturday to advance to his second U.S. Open final.
The third-seeded Murray, who recently won an Olympic singles gold medal, beat sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (7), in the first of the men's semifinals at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"I'm looking the other way and chairs are flying onto the court," Murray said after the match. "Some of the hardest conditions I've ever played in, and I'm from Scotland."
Murray is scheduled to play the winner of Saturday's other semifinal between defending champion and second-seeded Novak Djokovic and fourth-seeded Spaniard David Ferrer, 30, who has never been further than a semifinal at any major tournament.
Murray lost the 2008 final here in straight sets to Roger Federer. This year, Federer, ranked No. 1 in the world, was upset by Berdych in the quarterfinals.
The start of the match was delayed by nearly 90 minutes because of severe weather in the area that included tornado warnings and severe thunderstorms. Even when play began, the wind was gusting to nearly 30 mph on the court and the women's final between top-seeded Victoria Azarenka and the fourth-seeded Serena Williams was moved to the Sunday schedule at an undetermined time.
In the first set, which was at a pace best-suited to a tortoise, Berdych and Murray played in the face of strong winds that blew baseball caps off both men, made drop shots into lob shot and vice versa, turned straight serves into knuckleballs and left the crowd applauding when large pieces of cellophane landed on the court.
Women were grabbing at their sweaters, and Murray was grabbing at his shorts -- as much to make sure they were still on his body as in frustration.
Berdych, though unfamiliar with the large circumstance of playing in the world's biggest court in a U.S. Open semifinal as well as dealing with the weather, sneaked away with the first set 7-5
But it was Murray who made peace with the wind first. In the second set, he began hitting his ground strokes lower and faster, deciding to hit through the wind than try to predict what it might do.
He got two quick service breaks and grabbed a 4-1 second-set lead, but had a tough time closing out the set. During one service game, Murray had to avoid chairs that blew onto the court, and there was a "napkin break" while players waited for a blowing napkin to settle somewhere not on the court.
But with the crowd cheering, Murray won the second set with a big service winner.
After two hours the match was even with Berdych in possession of the 7-5 first-set win and Murray with the 6-2 second-set win.
Murray carried that momentum into the third set with a 6-1 win. As Murray jumped to 3-0 lead in the fourth set, Berdych's shoulders slumped when the wind would carry his shots downward and into the net.
Yet the 26-year-old from the Czech Republic kept hitting the ball and got back on serve in time to play a tiebreak. It wasn't until he sent a forehand long that Murray was able to celebrate.