Melbourne: British hope Andy Murray has tenacious Tomas Berdych standing between him and playing in a fourth Australian Open final in six years in Thursday`s semi-final.
The first Grand Slam tournament of the year has been a heartbreak major for the Scot with three runner-up finishes, but he gets another chance to finally crack the big-time if he can get past the giant-serving Czech.
Two-time Grand Slam champion Murray, 27, is bidding to become the first British winner of the Australian Open since Fred Perry in 1934.
"It`s nice to be in the latter stages of a slam again," Murray said.
"Obviously I want to do as best as possible, but all you can do is prepare as best you can, which I certainly did over the last few weeks and months.
"I`ve given myself a good opportunity again, and hopefully I can use it to my advantage."
Berdych, widely seen as the best player yet to win a major, holds a 6-4 winning record over his rival and has won their last two meetings, although it is 1-1 in the slams.
He has marched into the last four with five straight-sets victories, while Murray has only dropped one set, in his tough fourth-round encounter against popular Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov.
"He`s a big guy. He strikes the ball very well, he serves well and he`s fairly calm on the court," Murray said of the Czech.
"I think he manages emotions fairly well and he`s played extremely well this tournament so far. He`ll be coming into the match with confidence."Adding spice to their showdown is the presence of former Murray team member Dani Vallverdu as Berdych`s coach.
Berdych attributed the tactical help of Vallverdu in his quarter-final upset of 14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, but Murray was dismissive of any new insights the Czech may glean from his new mentor.
"My goal isn`t to beat Dani, my goal is to beat Berdych. So I won`t be thinking about that in the next days," Murray scoffed.
"We`ll see how the match plays out and what the tactics are and stuff. But I also know what Dani thinks of Berdych`s game because he`s told me, so it works both ways."
Berdych ended a record-equalling 17-match winning run Nadal had over him to claim his second consecutive semi-final appearance in Melbourne after losing to eventual champion Stan Wawrinka last year.
"I was definitely ready for it and set up my plan pretty well and I stuck with that through those three sets," Berdych said, adding that it was not only devising the tactics, but executing them on court.
"If you have a plan it`s nice thing, but if you never tried it before or never practised before, I mean, that`s useless," he said.
"What is important is to be prepared for the next match, to be ready, to set up the plan, and try to execute them on the court.
"Really the preparation is exactly the same like for all my past opponents so far here.
"I`m not going to change anything else with that. Just try to focus on my things and keep going for it."
Berdych has played in only one Grand Slam final, losing to Nadal at Wimbledon in 2010.
The second men`s semi-final is played on Friday.