Murray, the No. 3 seed from Britain, beat the four-time champion 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 6-2 at Rod Laver Arena last night to secure his first win in four Grand Slam meetings with the second-seeded Swiss. The final is tomorrow.
“I’ve lost some tough matches against him in Slams,” Murray said in a news conference. “So to win one, especially the way that it went tonight, was obviously nice. It was a tough match. A lot of ups and downs. So it was good to come back after the way I lost the fourth set.”
Murray was broken as he served for the match and lost the fourth-set tiebreaker to send the four-hour contest to a deciding set, where he won 16 of the 19 points on his own service. The Scot is seeking to become the first man in the professional era to win his first two major championships back- to-back after breaking through at September’s U.S. Open, where he beat Djokovic in the final.
“The task isn’t any easier,” Murray added. “I’m playing Novak again on this court. This has been his best court for sure. I’m aware of how tough it will be to win the match.”
Federer, who secured a men’s record-extending 17th Grand Slam singles title by beating Murray at Wimbledon in July, didn’t play a tune-up event as part of a streamlined schedule. Murray successfully defended his Brisbane International title before arriving at Melbourne Park, where he was the runner-up in 2010 and 2011.
“I go from here with a good feeling for the year,” Federer told reporters. “I didn’t play a tournament leading in, so now I know where my level is at. Also knowing I have even more time to work on my game, work on my fitness this year.”
In a match of momentum shifts, Murray took the first set in 45 minutes after breaking Federer’s service in the third game. The second set went to a tiebreaker, which saw Federer jump out to a 4-1 lead before being pegged back to 4-4 after Murray successfully challenged a line call. Federer brought up a set point with a whipped cross-court backhand from behind the baseline and converted when a forehand from Murray went long.
Murray broke in the sixth game of the third set when Federer sent a backhand wide. The U.S. Open and Olympic champion delivered nine winners against four unforced errors in winning the set in 36 minutes.
Having only had one previous break point in the match, Federer got another three opportunities on his opponent’s serve in the fourth game of the fourth set, going 3-1 up when Murray hooked a forehand wide.
Murray broke back three games later, using his forehand to gain court position. He scrambled from the baseline to break again in the 11th game and earn the right to serve for the match, only to lose his service by firing a forehand wide to send the set into a tiebreaker, which Federer won amid chants of “Let’s Go Roger, Let’s Go!”
Murray got an early break to go up 2-0 in the final set and didn’t face a break point on his own serve the rest of the way. He clinched the win with his sixth break of the match as Federer ballooned a forehand long.
Murray will next face an opponent who will have had an extra 24 hours rest, although the man who played his semifinal second at Melbourne Park went on to win the final in four of the past five years. Djokovic two days ago continued his bid for a third straight title by dropping only five games in beating David Ferrer, the No. 4 seed from Spain.
Murray said he’s anticipating another physical match against Djokovic, who leads 10-7 in their career meetings.
“I don’t want to be wasting any energy,” he said. “I’ll need all of it if I want to win against Novak on Sunday.”
Having almost gone out of the tournament in a five-hour fourth-round match against Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka, Djokovic produced what he said was one of the best performances of his career in routing Ferrer 6-2, 6-2, 6-1.
Before attending his post-match news conference, the Serb returned to Rod Laver Arena to joke around in a cameo appearance as a trainer during a legends’ doubles match.
“I have a great feeling about myself on the court at this moment,” the 25-year-old Djokovic, who also won the 2008 final at Melbourne Park, told reporters.
In today’s women’s final, defending champion Victoria Azarenka of Belarus faces Li Na, the No. 6 seed from China. Both women are seeking to join Serena and Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova as the only active players with at least two major titles.
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