Murray has no answer to sublime Soderling in California
ANDY Murray was sent crashing out of the BNP Paribas Masters after a sublime performance from Sweden's Robin Soderling in Indian Wells.
SUBLIME SODERLING: Robin Soderling brough back memories of his French Open run last season as he sent Andy Murray crashing out of the Indian Wells quarter finals (Getty Images)
The Scot, who reached the final in California 12 months ago, hadn't lost a set in his previous three matches but had no answer to Soderling's flawless display as he slipped to a 6-1, 7-6 defeat.
The Swede made his name with an historic victory over Rafael Nadal at the French Open last season and his performance against Murray was reminiscent of the heights he reached en route to the final at Roland Garros last June.
The serves were lightning fast and cannoned down with unwavering accuracy and the world number seven maintained such depth on his whipped ground strokes that Murray was pinned to the back of the court, helpless to compete in rallies.
The Scot began to find his feet in the second set, out-manoeuvring the Swede and eventually claiming an elusive break.
But it proved no more than a blip for Soderling as his power and rhythm proved too hot for Murray to handle and he bullied his way through the tie-break to win to reach Masters semi final.
And Soderling admitted he felt he had brought his best tennis to the court in California.
"It was a great match. I just started really well and was moving well and that was the key I think," said Soderling.
"I knew before the match that I couldn't out-power Andy because his movement is so good. So I had to wait for my opportunities and luckily they came.
"I'm more than ready to reach the top five in the world. It's very difficult though. I know I've got the game but you have to keep playing well throughout the year in every match and every tournament so it isn't easy."
A nine-minute first service game suggested Soderling was in for a long afternoon but as the set wore on, it quickly emerged to be the polar opposite.
The Swede strolled through Murray's opening two service games and didn't give the Scot a sniff on his own, racing to a 5-0 lead.
Soderling's fearless confidence was demonstrated in the sixth game as he hit a stunning backhand drive winner from outside the tramlines which spun venomously over the high part of the net and into the corner.
The Scot managed to ward off another break point and avoid losing his first bagel set since last season's French Open quarter final defeat to Fernando Gonzalez but it was postponing the inevitable as Soderling eased to the set.
Murray began to show more grit in the second set, willing himself into a higher intensity but Soderling took the early initiative to break in the third game, earning the break point with a delicate backhand slice down the line.
The Scot fought hard, earning two break points in an uncharacteristically sloppy service game from the Swede but Soderling quickly refocused to save the game.
But with his back to the wall Murray asked more questions of the Swede and, with Soderling serving for the match, Murray finally earned his first break of serve, sealing the game with a reaction backhand from his opponent's smash.
Soderling was rattled, his body language in the long shadows that had encroached the court a far cry from the bristling energy he had exhibited in the sunshine during the opening set.
But after dropping the opening two points on serve at 6-5 down, the Swede regained composure and calmly held serve before running away with the breaker.
Soderling will face seventh seed Andy Roddick in the semi finals after the American dismissed Spain's Tommy Robredo with minimal effort earlier on Friday.
Defending champion and world number three Rafael Nadal will take on Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic in the second semi final.