MELBOURNE, Jan 25 (AFP) Britain’s Andy Murray faced down his Grand Slam nemesis Roger Federer in an electrifying five-set thriller to reach the Australian Open final today.
The US Open champion finally ended his run of Grand Slam failures against the Swiss world number two, winning their semi-final 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 6-2 in exactly four hours.
Murray is now into in his third Australian final and will play defending champion Novak Djokovic on Sunday, a rematch of the US Open decider when the Scot won his first Grand Slam title September.
Murray extended his record over Federer, the 17-time major champion, to 11-9, but it was his first victory over Federer in four Grand Slam matches.
It will be Murray’s sixth Grand Slam final and he is the first Briton to reach three Australian Open finals.
“It’s always tough against the Roger and he’s at his best in the Grand Slams and when his back is against the wall, and (when) I was serving for the match at 6-5 he produced some great shots,” Murray said.
“I kept fighting and he made a few loose shots early in the fifth set and I stuck in.”
Murray began the better and had five break points in Federer’s opening two service games, culminating in breaking the Swiss in the third game. The Scot was keeping on Federer’s backhand and earned two more break points before Federer held in the seventh.
Murray went on to take the opening set in 45 minutes, but Federer came back in the second. Games went with serve to a tiebreaker and Federer got the early jump on the back of two forehand errors.
Murray got back one of the mini-breaks but Federer seized on a mishit smash and rammed home a forehand winner for set point and levelled the match on an overhit forehand. Murray appeared to be having calf muscle trouble in the third set but he broke Federer in the sixth and went on to take a two sets to one lead with an ace.
The Scot went down on the court wincing as he chased an early break in the fourth set, but it was Federer who struck. Murray fought off two break points but a wide forehand gave the Swiss a break.