The development of Andy Murray continued Friday night in Melbourne as the world watched the Scot finally beat rival Roger Federer in a Grand Slam match for a first time. And what a way to do it in a 4-hour, 5-set thriller that put him into his third straight Grand Slam final.
Murray, who had won just one of 10 sets in three previous Grand Slam matches against Federer, played some of his best tennis of his career in beating the 4-time Australian Open champion 6-4, 6-7, 6-3, 6-7, 6-2.
He now leads Federer by 11-9 in this series.
Murray how now reached six Grand Slam finals and his third in Australia. He’ll now have 48 hours of recovery before taking on the well-rested 2-time defending champion Novak Djokovic who’s beaten him the last two years. If he wins he’ll become the first player in the Open Era to win his first two Slam back-to-back.
Here’s what Murray said afterward to the press:
Q. How pleased were you to get off to a good start in the fifth?
ANDY MURRAY: Obviously I was happy. 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.
Q. What did you say to each other at the changeover after losing the tiebreak?
ANDY MURRAY: Didn’t say much after the second set. I made a I mean, it wasn’t a terrible volley, but I could have hit a better volley at 5 All in the second set tiebreak, so I was disappointed with that.
But I was playing well.
After the fourth set, you know, he went and took a toilet break and I had a bit more time to sort of think. You know, I’d put myself in a winning position and just had to think to myself what I’d done to get in that position and make sure I did it at the beginning of the fifth set.
Q. Did you draw on the US Open final in particular?
ANDY MURRAY: No, I wasn’t thinking about that. I was just trying to look forward. Yeah, I mean, that match wasn’t in my mind tonight.
Q. Do you think you’ve ever served as well over such a prolonged period as that before?
ANDY MURRAY: I don’t know. I don’t know. I mean, it’s a tough one to judge. I did serve well tonight, that’s for sure.
But, you know, whether I’ve served better or not, I don’t know.
Q. Five sets in four hours. Do you feel that wasn’t a reflection of the way you dominated the match?
ANDY MURRAY: I wouldn’t say I dominated the match; didn’t necessarily feel that way.
I obviously had more breaks of serve and stuff by the end. Because of that I assume I probably would have won significantly more points. I don’t know, though, exactly.
But, yeah, I thought I did a good job tonight. I think I did all the things I needed to do. I did them well. Even, like I say, after the second and fourth sets, which were tough to lose, because, you know, I wasn’t comfortable, but I was in, you know, good positions in both sets.
To lose them was tough. I was just happy with the way I responded after both those sets.
Q. How satisfying is it to have beaten him in a slam for the first time?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I mean, it’s satisfying obviously. You know, I’ve obviously lost some tough matches against him in slams. So to win one, especially the way that it went tonight, yeah, was obviously nice.
You know, I’m sure both of us will play each other again in slams, so it will help having won once against him.
Q. He said that he always felt he was chasing. Did it feel that way to you, that you were kind of always ahead?
ANDY MURRAY: I think that’s the way the score went. That’s kind of how it was. I won the first set, and, you know, second set, you know, yeah, I was always up in the score for a majority of the match.
Really at no stage was I behind in the score, so that’s probably why it felt that way. But he obviously hung in extremely well, you know, to force it into a fifth set.
After the way the match had been going, it was great the way he turned around because he played some big points when he was behind. It’s what he always does.
Q. How surprised were you by what he shouted when you were at the net at 6 5 in the fourth? You had a funny look on your face at that point.
ANDY MURRAY: I mean, I wasn’t that surprised. I mean, stuff like that happens daily in tennis matches. You know, in sport, the stuff that some people say on football pitches and in basketball and all sorts of sports. I mean, it was very, very mild in comparison to what happens in other sports. It’s just one of those things.
Q. Did it rattle you at all?
ANDY MURRAY: No. I think it didn’t rattle me. I think he raised his game, you know, and that’s what happens. Sometimes guys need to get, you know, emotion into the match.
He definitely raised his level and played in that game I think he hit two balls onto the line and was extremely aggressive after that.
Q. Can you repeat what he said?
ANDY MURRAY: It’s not relevant what he said. You know, it doesn’t really matter. It’s something that happens, like I say, all the time on tennis courts, in sport, all the time.
Especially when it’s a one on one sort of individual combat. It’s not relevant. There’s no hard feelings.
Q. Was it a word that we might struggle to get in our newspapers?
ANDY MURRAY: It’s not relevant what was said, you know. I’m sure Roger won’t talk about it and I have no interest in discussing it either, because, like I say, it happens all the time.
People will want to make a big deal of it and it isn’t really a big deal.
Q. Your reaction seems to be very low key. You’re keeping your calm. Is that because you still got one big step to go?
ANDY MURRAY: Uhm, no, I don’t think it’s just ’cause of that. It’s a long, long match. It’s a very late finish. I’m tired. I don’t want to be wasting any energy, because I’ll need all of it if I want to win against Novak on Sunday.
Q. Between the fourth and fifth sets, do you know you’re playing better? Were you sure that if you keep it at that level you could close it out?
ANDY MURRAY: To be honest, I was just trying to think what I’d done to get to that point, and I was just trying to focus on doing it at the beginning of the fifth set.
You know, you never know what’s going to happen. The only thing you can do is play the right way, go for your shots when the opportunity’s there, and hope that it pays off.
But, yeah, I mean, at any stage he can increase his level and your level can dip, especially in a four hour match. You just need to try and be focused for as much of the match as possible.
The beginning of the fifth set was the part of the match that I was most pleased with.
Q. This will be your first Grand Slam final as a Grand Slam champion. Is that going to make it easier or…
ANDY MURRAY: I mean, I have no idea. I’ll see obviously how I feel when I get on the court.
I would hope so. The task isn’t any easier. I’m obviously playing Novak again on this court. I mean, this has been his best court for sure. So I’m aware of how tough it will be to win the match and what have you.
But, you know, hopefully there’s moments in the US Open final where, you know, I could have closed out sets a bit quicker. I think the tiebreak was a good example of how nerves can work in those sort of matches.
It was not the prettiest tennis, so hopefully I’ll play a little bit better.
Q. While not thinking of the US Open and the Olympics specifically, do you think they’ve made you mentally sort of more stronger, battle hardened?
ANDY MURRAY: I mean, I said a few weeks ago, I mean, those matches, I mean, have helped obviously mentally. I think going through a lot of the losses that I’ve had will have helped me, as well.
Yeah, I’ve been questioned for large parts of my career about physically would I be strong enough, mentally would it be strong enough, do I listen to my coaches, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, whatever it is, can I handle pressure.
I think those years of having all of those questions and then finally to be able to answer them I think, yeah, it was all part of the process. So I hope on Sunday I can play a good match. Obviously having won against Novak before in a slam final will help mentally.
Q. This court is said to be slightly slower and higher bouncing than the US Open one. If so, is it going to make it any easier for him to play against you?
ANDY MURRAY: Judging by our match that we played here last year and the one we played in New York, I don’t think there was a huge amount of difference. I think the balls are slower here. Also, because you’re playing in the evening, that will slow it down.
But I actually think the court here this year is playing fairly fast. You can get a lot of free points off your serve if you serve well like I did this evening. I mean, the courts aren’t that dissimilar, it’s just the time of day you play and the balls are a bit different.
Q. I know you’re a massive fan of a lot of different sports. Would you enjoy tennis more if tennis had a little bit more of that rough edge to it publicly instead of sort of reserved gentility?
ANDY MURRAY: No. I know you guys would. But, yeah, I mean, I think tennis is doing just fine the way it is.
Q. You said you were feeling tired now. Are you confident you’ll be fully recovered for Sunday, especially given the fact that you’d had five straight sets wins before tonight?
ANDY MURRAY: You never know how you’re going to feel the next day. It’s obviously late just now. Yeah, I’m sure I’ll be tired tomorrow and stiff and sore, so I need to make sure I sleep as long as possible tonight, do all of the recovery stuff.
I’ll hit very little tomorrow, I would have thought.
Yeah, just try your best to be in the best possible condition for Sunday. You know, realistically you’re probably not going to feel perfect because of how the match went tonight, but it’s not to say you can’t recover well enough to play your best tennis.
Q. Are you doing anything special for Robbie Burns day?
ANDY MURRAY: Will I be doing anything special? No, no.
Q. Does the ball still come off his racquet as well as it did when you first played him?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I mean, I don’t see major, major changes in his game. You know, he still hits the ball obviously extremely clean. He has his racquet strung very loose so the ball comes off his racquet with a lot of spin and it comes off his racquet quick.
You know, when he slices the ball stays very low. He’s still serving very, very well. I think the serve’s normally the first thing that goes, you know, with guys when they’re getting towards the ends of their career. I think he’s still serving pretty well.
Q. When did you start refueling with bananas?
ANDY MURRAY: I mean, I’ve always kind of had to eat them just because of what they have in them. It’s good for you in long matches.
Just still not a fan.
Q. A year ago when you played Novak, have you got closer to him? Do you think he’s also improved shots and whatever?
ANDY MURRAY: I think so much of it comes down to how you play on the day, to be honest. You know, I think I started to play better tennis and played my optimum level more in the big matches over the last year or so, which hadn’t always been the case.
So I think that’s kind of what’s changed for me. I mean, two years ago he didn’t lose a match for the first six months. It’s tough to know whether you can actually improve from that.
But he’s still playing well, he’s No. 1 in the world. He was in the US Open final, French Open final, Wimbledon semis, and he’s in the final here. So he’s playing extremely well.
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