World No. 5 Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic will do battle for the 2011 Australian Open title after Murray moved into the final for the second year in a row, defeating Spain’s David Ferrer 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-1, 7-6(2).
The 23-year-old Murray lost to Roger Federer in last year’s final and also lost to the Swiss in the 2008 US Open title match.
Murray is again one match away from ending a 75-year run without a Grand Slam title for a British male, since Fred Perry in 1936. He will also try to become the first British man to win the Australian Open since 1934.
With World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki watching from his player box, Murray started slowly, losing the first set with 16 unforced errors off his backhand side alone. In the second set Murray scraped out the tiebreak after saving three break points in the sixth game of the set and held off a set point at 4-5. The third set was all Murray as he raced to a 5-1 lead before closing it out.
And in the fourth and final set, after blowing a break lead early in the set and later forgetting the score – thinking he was serving 3-4 not 4-5, Murray held on and dominated the tiebreak 7-2.
“He’s an unbelievable athlete, he works so hard, he’s in great shape, he’s such a tough player to play against,” said Murray of Ferrer after the 3-hour, 46-minute slugfest. “The conditions are very different in the evenings than during the day, he was dictating all the points at the start. The second set I started to go for my shots a bit more and it paid off. Grand Slam semifinal, there’s always going to be some nerves, and that was the case today…Both of us did a lot of running tonight, it was a pretty physical match. I’m going to jump in the ice bath and try and recover properly.”
Murray says his third Slam final against his friend Djokovic, who gets an extra day of rest, will be a different experience.
“The first Slam final I played against Federer I didn’t know what was going on, it went by really, really quick; last year was better, and I hope this one is going to be better than last year’s,” Murray said. “Novak’s had a great tournament, it’s going to be a tough match. We’re good friends, we practiced a lot in Perth, and here, it’s going to be a brutal match I think. I’ve had great support back home and great atmosphere here again tonight.”
Ferrer was playing in his second career Grand Slam semifinal after upsetting an injured Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals.
“The first set and second set was a lot of rallies,” the 28-year-old Ferrer said. “I had my chance in the set point in the second set, but in the important moments he served really well. In the tiebreak, maybe he start better than me. I play little bit short sometimes in the start of the tiebreak. And really was the key the serve. Andy in important moments serve better than me. So I can’t do nothing more. I fight a lot. I tried my best game all the time, but Andy’s a very, very great player.”
Against Djokovic, the Serb leads 4-3 but Murray has won their last three meetings in straight sets, all on hardcourt. However, the two have not played since 2009 Miami and Djokovic already has a Grand Slam title having come on Rod Laver Arena court.
Temperatures are expected to warm up significantly with highs over 100F on Sunday. The final begins at 7:40pm local time in Melbourne. The match will be the first Grand Slam final without Roger Federer or Nadal since the 2008 Australian Open when Djokovic beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
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