Murray struggled on serve throughout and some uncharacteristic unforced errors combined with excellent shot-making from Chardy, particularly on the forehand side, proved decisive as Murray lost his first of five meetings between the two, 6-4, 6-4.
Chardy grabbed the crucial break in the seventh game of the opening set and showed little signs of nerves to serve it out. The second set saw five successive breaks but again it was Chardy who was visibly the more aggressive of the two, following his big forehand to the net at every opportunity.
“When I went behind he started serving better and going for his shots. I was very uncomfortable out there, the ball was bouncing extremely high and was very hard to control ,” said Murray.
With Murray’s first serve percentage again well down, the Scot looked a shadow of the Olympic gold medallist and Chardy served out to set up a clash with Juan Martin Del Potro.
There were fears that the Argentine player would not even be able to complete the first set against Viktor Troicki when he called a medical time-out after only his first service game because of a problem with his left wrist.
In spite of those struggles he actually claimed the first break of the set in the third game, only for Troicki to respond in kind in the very next game.
Del Potro was clearly avoiding using his left hand whenever possible, but he managed to recover in time to win the tie-break 7-2 after an hour-and-a-quarter.
Troicki had never before claimed a set against Del Potro in their three previous meetings on hardcourt, but he stepped up his game to comfortably level by taking the second 6-2.
The world number 32 failed to make the transition into the third set with that form, however, and Del Potro appeared to leave his wrist injury behind him by taking the decider 6-1.
Four-times Cincinnati Masters champion Roger Federer easily disposed of Bernard Tomic 6-2, 6-4 in just over an hour to set up a repeat of the 2010 final against Mardy Fish in the quarter final after the American disposed of Radek Stepanek 6-3 6-3 in Ohio.