Melbourne: Andy Murray recovered from a set down against David Ferrer Friday to set up an Australian Open final against Novak Djokovic, where he will aim to break Britain’s 75-year men’s Grand Slam drought.
After a slow start, Murray won 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-1, 7-6 (7/2) to advance to his second straight Australian final, as he aims to go one better than last year’s straight-sets loss to Roger Federer.
Sunday’s title match will be the British fifth seed’s third Grand Slam final overall as he seeks to breakthrough for his first major trophy against the Serbian world number three.
“In the first Slam final I played against Federer (2008 US Open), I didn’t know what was going on, it went so quick. And last year was better than before, and I hope this one going to be better than last year,” Murray said.
“Experience-wise Novak and I are similar, he won here three years ago, we’re good friends, we practise a lot together so there won’t be any secrets with our games, but it’s going to be a brutal match I think.”
Murray is bidding to become the first British man to win a Grand Slam since Fred Perry in 1936. Perry was also the last British player to win the Australian Open, in 1934.
Last year Murray was the first British man since John Lloyd in 1977 to play in an Australian Open final.
“He’s an unbelievable athlete, he’s an unbelievable competitor, he works so hard, he’s in great shape and I was expecting an unbelievably tough match and I got it,” Murray said of Ferrer.
“It was great that I managed to come through but he’s such a tough player to play against.
“He was dictating all the points at the start and in the second set I started to go for my shots a bit more and it paid off.”
Murray extended his current winning streak to nine matches and dropped only his second set of the tournament against the tenacious Ferrer.
Ferrer was playing in his second Grand Slam semi-final after taking advantage of an injured Rafael Nadal to win their quarter-final in straight sets.
Ferrer made Murray work for every point and kept him on court for 3hr 46min, leaving the Scot heading straight for an ice bath to recover for the final.
The Spaniard’s extraordinary fitness levels gave him the edge in a physical first set full of long, lung-busting rallies.
Ferrer was broken in the seventh game but broke straight back and broke the Scot again to take the opening set in 46 draining minutes.
Murray had a set point in the 10th game of the second set but Ferrer doggedly held him off and both exchanged breaks before the set went into a tiebreaker.
Ferrer played a dreadful tiebreak with three volley errors for Murray to level the match on the third of his six set points.
Murray made a strategic mid-match adjustment by better positioning himself on court and taking a more aggressive approach.
Ferrer fought off five break points in the seventh game before Murray went ahead for the first time in the match on his third set point.
Murray clutched his left quad during the fourth set, but he again prevailed in another tiebreak, getting to five match points and clinching it on the third.
“I think everyone has problems at this stage of the tournament and both of us did a lot of running tonight, it was a pretty physical match,” Murray said.
“My body was feeling it a bit towards the end and I’m going to jump into the ice bath now and try to recover properly.”
First Published: Saturday, January 29, 2011, 10:14