David Ferrer, the last remaining Spaniard at this year's Wimbledon, fell 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (8-6), 6-4, 7-6 (6-4) in Wednesday's quarterfinals to fourth-ranked Andy Murray of Scotland.
In a match filled with grueling baseline rallies, Ferrer took an early break in the first set and then held a set point at 5-3 before Murray got back on serve and forced a tiebreaker, which the Spaniard won.
The world No. 5 then had a golden opportunity to take a commanding lead, serving for the second set in the 10th game and then holding a set point at 6-5 in the tiebreaker, but Murray refused to wilt and rallied to even the match at a set apiece after two hours and 20 minutes.
Ferrer continued to struggle on the big points when he squandered two break points at the start of the third set, a failure to convert that proved costly when Murray broke his serve for a 5-4 lead and then served out the set one game later.
Faced with an uphill battle, the Spaniard desperately needed an early boost in the fourth set but once again failed to convert a pair of break points.
Murray then could sense victory a few games later when he reached 15-40 on Ferrer's serve, but a costly forehand error gave the world No. 5 new life and the set came down to yet another tiebreaker.
In that decider, Murray's bigger serving proved decisive as he threw down one of his 18 aces on match point.
For several years, Murray has been Britain's lone hope for its first men's singles champion at Wimbledon since 1936 and he said he is up for the challenge.
"Obviously now that I'm in (the semifinals) I'm not thinking, 'Great, I'm in the semifinals.' You want to try and go further," Murray said. "But I know how hard it is. Everyone kept telling me I had such a hard draw and how tough it was going to be to get through. You know, I managed to do that," Murray said about reaching the semifinals for the fourth consecutive year.
The Scotsman has never reached the Wimbledon final.
Ferrer, who had his best-ever result at Wimbledon this year, rued his missed opportunities but acknowledged Murray's superiority.
"I think the key was in the second set, no, when I have 5-4 or I had one set point in the tiebreak," Ferrer, who defeated the Scotsman in the French Open quarterfinals last month, said.
"But Andy, in important moments he play really good. He played more aggressive than me, and he was better, no?"
Ferrer, not known for his grass-court prowess, had scored two impressive victories in the previous two rounds over American Andy Roddick and Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro.
He was in the unusual position of carrying the flag for Spain at Wimbledon after two-time champion Rafael Nadal suffered a shocking second-round defeat at the hands of 100th-ranked Czech Lukas Rosol.
Next up for Murray on Friday will be France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who scored a 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 victory on Wednesday over Germany's Philip Kohlschreiber.
Friday's other men's semifinal will be a blockbuster showdown between world No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia and six-time champion Roger Federer of Switzerland, who recorded easy straight-set quarterfinal wins on Wednesday over Germany's Florian Mayer and Russia's Mikhail Youzhny, respectively.
Wimbledon is the third of four Grand Slam events on the tennis calendar and the only one played on grass. EFE