Federer beats Murray to seal semi-final spot.Reuters

Roger Federer sealed his place in the semi-finals of the Australian Open with a vintage performance to defeat Andy Murray over four sets in Melbourne.

The Swiss was on the brink of completing a straight sets win over the British No. 1 but was eventually pushed to a 6-3 6-4 7-6 (8-6) 3-6 as Murray threatened to stage a late comeback.

But the 32-year-old saw off the Scot's late resilience to set up a mouth-watering semi-final clash against Rafael Nadal on Friday after the Spaniard dispatched Gigor Dimitrov.

After dropping the first game a slightly nervous-looking Murray put himself under early pressure with two unforced errors that went unpunished when Federer netted an easy forehand en route to surrendering the second.

Bright, attacking tennis followed from the Scot but was unable to match the early intensity of Federer who rushed the net at every opportunity as he eased into a 4-1 advantage before a powerful drop volley saw off the Wimbledon champion in the opening set.

With Federer performing with all the force and verve of his prime years, Murray was in need of an instant reaction in the second and tested the Swiss in a 23 shot rally that the Scot eventually clinched. It was a short lived resurgence as Federer held serve before keeping Murray at arm's length with two aces.

A tighter set presented Murray with the opportunities to peg his opponent back after his blistering start, but the combination of Federer's fierce tactics and the Scot's own unforced errors prevented him from gaining a two game lead. Dropping his serve again in the 13th game after netting a simple chance, the Brit fell 30-40 down to leave the second set in Federer's sights.

It was a testament to the sheer power behind Federer's performance that his unforced error count of 22 to Murray's 15 did little to hinder him. With Federer having to serve out to clinch the set an over hit effort from his opponent was enough to prompt a clenched fist in celebration as he sealed the set after an hour and 19 minutes.

Murray had never come back from two sets down against Federer and going down 15-40 at the start of the third set was not an ideal scenario.

Showing more resilience Murray crept ahead of his opponent courtesy of a number of missed break point opportunities but struggled as Federer responded each time by holding serve with ease.

The formula followed throughout the set and while moments of individual quality were evident in the Scot's game, they did not come with the consistency exhibited by his opponent. When he fashioned his first break points of the match late on in the third to take the Swiss to a tie break it seemed too little too late with Federer on serve to seal a straight sets win.

He could not repeat his trick however as Murray forced two errors from 6-4 down to keep his hopes of a semi-final spot alive.

Murray's dogged determination inspired those in attendance Rod Laver Arena but it was not enough to topple an inspired Federer chasing his 18th Grand Slam title.

Having raced into a 5-3 lead, Federer was given another chance to serve out the match after converting his 10th break point of the set and did not pass it up on this occasion, powering a vicious ace out wide to seal victory.