Andy Murray survived the big serving of Milos Raonic to advance to his fifth Australian Open final Friday night. The World No. 2, though, was down two sets to one before rallying to take the fourth and the fifth over an injured Raonic 46, 75, 67(4), 64, 62.
With the lead and his serve clicking, Raonic injured his adductor early in the fourth set. After receiving treatment, he wasn’t the same as the fitter Murray ran away with the match to complete his best comeback ever at the Australian Open, and win his fifth semifinal.
Murray enters his ninth career Grand Slam final with a 9-21 mark against Novak Djokovic. He lost to Djokovic last year for a fourth time in Australia, and overall Murray’s just 2-6 in Grand Slam finals.
Murray talked about the match and about having to face his friend Djokovic:
Q. Very solid match. You only lost the first serve and never any more. Was that something important?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, for sure. When you play against someone who, you know, is tough to break like Milos, you need to protect your own serve to put pressure on them.
I think at the end of the fourth set I did very well. I won some of the breakpoints I faced. I came up with some good second serves. You know, changed the position of the second serves on a few points. Served close to the lines. That was big.
But, yeah, against anyone, is one of the most important shots, if not the most important, especially tonight.
Q. I know it is what it is, but Novak has had an extra 24 hours to get ready for the final rather than you. Do you think that should be changed or is it something you’ll just put up with?
ANDY MURRAY: I mean, it’s worked both ways for me. I played five finals. Definitely not every time it’s been me playing on the Friday. I think a couple of times I played the Thursday match.
I mean, I think obviously, you know, if you play a quick match on the Friday, it doesn’t really make a huge difference. Obviously you play the five sets it isn’t ideal, but Novak also won here the time we played five hours and then played a six-hour final.
So it’s doable.
Q. Were you surprised at all at the start of the match at Raonic’s level of play?
ANDY MURRAY: Not really. I’d seen him play a lot since I arrived in Australia. I saw his final in Brisbane. I even saw a little bit of his matches in the tournament in Abu Dhabi, and then obviously a little bit of his matches here. So I knew he was playing well.
You know, it’s tricky sometimes. I finished my match the other day indoors, we warm up for the match today indoors, and then it’s only literally 10 minutes before you go out on court you’re told that the roof’s going to be open. It’s a bit different.
He came out hitting the ball very clean at the beginning; I didn’t. He adjusted to that quicker than me. That was it.
Q. What was the information you were given about the timeline of whether the roof would be open or not?
ANDY MURRAY: We were just told, like as we were both warming up in the hallway before the match, that they were expecting rain, but they were going to start the match with the roof open.
If there was rain in the area, they would start to close the roof a bit like they did when I played against Ferrer I think to avoid any, you know, big delays during the match. If the court gets wet, obviously it takes time to dry.
But if they can close the roof before that happens, then it’s a bit quicker. It’s just seven or eight minutes really because they had the roof quite, you know, almost half closed for the whole match.
Yeah, that was what we were told just before we went on.
Q. Milos said he was heartbroken by the way it ended. Do you feel for a guy going out like that?
ANDY MURRAY: In which way?
Q. I mean, he was leading. He has a big opportunity for a young kid like him coming through. You were obviously the winner and you must feel elated. Do you also feel that he lost the opportunity to battle in the way he might have?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I mean, I guess as the opponent, you have to just try and play what’s on your side of the net. That’s something I’ve learned over the years of playing. When I’m playing a match, I’m not thinking about what he was going through.
I’m just trying to, you know, use kind of what he’s giving me on the court and try to make adjustments to my game if needs be. You know, obviously if the injury affected him significantly at the end, then that’s tough, especially at this stage of an event.
As the player, it’s obviously very tough when that happens. I’ve been in that position myself many times before, as well. It’s not easy.
Q. How much have you seen of Novak’s matches here, in particular his semifinal and what you made of his performance then?
ANDY MURRAY: I saw quite a bit of his match with Simon, and I saw the first two sets of the match last night. Obviously he played extremely well yesterday from the tennis that I saw. Played very well. Came out hitting the ball extremely clean from the beginning and put Roger under pressure immediately at the beginning of the match. Played extremely well there.
Obviously the match with Simon was a bit different. Didn’t play so well. But it was a completely different matchup: different game styles; different stage of the tournament, as well. Even though he didn’t play so well in that match against Simon, still managed to find a way to get through.
He’s definitely played better the last couple matches.
Q. You’ve talked a lot in the past about mental strength as well as physical strength in situations. After the battling that your body takes over a fortnight and all the distractions you’ve had, when you’re down two sets, where do you get the strength come from to get yourself back to the level you got to?
ANDY MURRAY: You just try and use different things when you’re on the court. Obviously losing that third set was tough. He played a good tiebreak. He didn’t miss a first serve in the breaker, I don’t think. That was tough.
I mean, I was starting to hit the ball better in the third set. I was hitting the ball cleaner from the back of the court. I wasn’t allowing him to dictate as many of the points as I was at the beginning.
Yeah, just tried to keep going, keep making as many returns as possible, and continue to make it difficult for him. Eventually I was able to engage in more baseline rallies and dictate more of those points, which made him do more of the running.
Obviously if his injury was restricting him, you know, I wanted to keep the rallies like that. I wanted to be the one dictating. That was it. I wasn’t thinking about too much on the court, to be honest.
You just try to concentrate on what you’re going to do on the next point and not think too much about the past.
Q. Is there anything you’ve learnt from the last couple matches against Novak that gives you confidence you could get the edge on Sunday?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, I mean, we’ve played obviously a lot in the last couple of years. Last year here is a good match for me to look at because the tennis, in my opinion, wasn’t miles apart. It was a very close match for three sets.
Same thing in Miami when we played there. A couple sets were very tight.
French Open was close, as well.
Obviously managed to get the win in Canada in another very close match.
Yeah, the most important thing for me is to sustain my level for long enough, not just for one set here or there, a few games here or there. I need to do it, you know, for a very long period if I want to get the win. That’s my challenge on Sunday.
Q. How proud are you that you and Jamie are the first brothers to reach the finals in the same slam? What will you do for his match tomorrow night?
ANDY MURRAY: I haven’t watched any of his matches here. I try not to watch. I find it pretty stressful to watch, so I won’t watch the match.
But, yeah, I mean, for it to be the first time to happen is, yeah, incredible really. I never would have expected that. I mean, even at the beginning of last year Jamie had only maybe made one quarter of a slam before Wimbledon.
Now that he’s made three in a row, he’s playing great tennis and is moving right up to the top of the rankings. So very proud of him.
Yeah, obviously something that’s going to be extremely rare. You’re not going to see it very often. We should enjoy it and be proud of it because it’s a tough thing to do.
Q. How will you find out the score?
ANDY MURRAY: Just check online.
Q. On a similar theme, over the next three days, you have three Scots in four Melbourne finals. Yourself, Jamie, and Gordon Reid. That’s got to be something.
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, it is. I spoke about it the other day, as well. Gordon has obviously had some big wins here. 9-7 in the third. I saw him in the locker room today before my match. He was 5-4 in his doubles when the rain came.
Yeah, like I said the other day, it’s amazing that we’ve all done well at this tournament. Since then, in the last couple of days, we’ve continued winning. Hopefully we can keep it up over the weekend.
Q. Knowing you’ve had four previous disappointments in the finals here, do you look at the past in a positive light? What do you tell yourself to not feel the disappointment and tell yourselves you can do something different?
ANDY MURRAY: Five finals is a great achievement. You can’t take that away from me. I should be happy about that. There’s very few players that will have made five Australian Open finals, so I have to be proud of that achievement.
Obviously when you get to the final you’re disappointed if you don’t win. But, I mean, I’ve obviously played very good tennis here. I’ve given myself many opportunities to reach the finals. Seven straight quarterfinals, as well.
I have a very good shot on Sunday if I play my best tennis, like I said. I need to do it for long enough to have a chance. I’m aware of that. I don’t think many people are expecting me to win on Sunday. I have to just believe in myself, have a solid game plan, and hopefully execute it and play well.
But, you know, the previous disappointments, it’s one tennis match. Doesn’t matter what’s happened in the past really. It’s about what happens on Sunday. People like to read into what’s happened in the past, but Stan beat Rafa in the final here. I don’t know, I don’t think he’d ever won against him in like 13 attempts. When he beat Novak here, the same thing, as well.
There’s no reason it’s not possible for me to win.
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