MADRID World number three Andy Murray's latest bid for a maiden career title on clay ended when he was beaten 7-6 6-4 by sixth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych in the Madrid Open quarter-finals on Friday.
The Briton had lost both of his previous two matches on the red dust against Berdych, who was runner-up to Roger Federer last year, and produced an erratic performance this time.
Murray battled through a grueling three-hour encounter against Frenchman Gilles Simon on Thursday that finished after one o'clock in the morning local time (2300 GMT) and the Scot appeared increasingly weary as Friday's match wore on.
Berdych, chasing a first title of the year, will next play seventh seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France or 15th-seeded Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka for a place in Sunday's final.
(Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Ken Ferris)