Murray survives Federer, gets Djokovic in final
MELBOURNE, Australia — Andy Murray was sucking in deep breaths, trying to recover from his exhausting win over Roger Federer. Pain was very much on his mind.
The U.S. Open champion defeated Federer, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-2, in a four-hour Australian Open semifinal. It was Murray's first victory against the 17-time major winner at a Grand Slam event.
But with the clock about to strike midnight, Murray was already thinking about Sunday's final against two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic, who is on a 20-match winning streak at Melbourne Park. This will be a rematch of their U.S. Open final.
“Every time we play each other it's normally a very physical match,” Murray said. “I'll need to be ready for the pain. I hope it's a painful match — that'll mean it's a good one.”
Murray had a 10-9 record against Federer but had lost his three previous Grand Slam matches to him.
One of those defeats came at Wimbledon last year. Murray says the disappointment of that loss triggered his run to the gold medal at the London Olympics, and then his drought-breaking triumph at the U.S. Open.
“You know, I've obviously lost some tough matches against him in Slams,” Murray said.
“So to win one, especially the way that it went tonight, yeah, was obviously nice.”
Murray ended a 76-year drought for British men at the majors when he beat Djokovic in five sets in the final at Flushing Meadows.
He's hoping the step-by-step manner in which he has crossed career milestones off his to-do list will continue Sunday. He lost four major finals, including two in Australia, before winning a Grand Slam title. He lost three times to Federer in a major before beating him. Even then, he wasted a chance to serve out in the fourth set Friday night as Federer rallied.
“Those matches ... have helped obviously mentally,” he said. “I think going through a lot of the losses that I've had will have helped me as well. Obviously having won against Novak before in a Slam final will help mentally.”
Fifteen thousand people packed Rod Laver Arena, including the great Laver himself, to see if Federer could reach a sixth Australian final. The 31-year-old Swiss has won four of his 17 titles at Melbourne Park.
Rather than wilting in the fifth set, Murray hit his stride. He allowed Federer only four points in the first three games of the fifth set, bolting to a 3-0 lead and carrying it through to the end.
“It's big. I never beat Roger in a Slam before. It definitely will help with the confidence,” Murray said. “Just knowing you can win against those guys in big matches definitely helps.”