Andy Murray is through to his third Australian Open final - the sixth Grand Slam final of his career - after a pulsating five set win over Roger Federer. Murray won 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-7 (2-7) 6-2 and will meet Novak Djokovic in Sunday's showpiece match. It's a repeat of last year's US Open final which Murray won to become the first British man to win a Grand Slam title in 76 years.
It is also a repeat of last year's semi-final in Melbourne where Djokovic inflicted upon Murray one of the toughest defeats of his career. Djokovic edged a five set classic after Murray had led 2-1. It left the British number one contemplating yet another Grand Slam event in which he'd performed well yet fallen at the latter stages. For many players, it may have signalled a decline. For Murray, it's proven to be the catalyst for better performances. That match evidenced just how close he was to beating the very best. He went on to appear in his first Wimbledon final and win Olympic gold, before September's brilliant US Open victory. It didn't seem it at the time, but that defeat was a key moment in Murray's career.
If Murray wins on Sunday he will make tennis history, becoming the first player in the Open era to follow his first major title with one immediately after. It will be a tough ask given Djokovic's form. Anyone who witnessed his straight sets destruction of David Ferrer in Thursday's other semi-final will know the Serb looks to be in fine form. Murray and Djokovic have met 17 times in their careers, with Djokovic winning 10 of them, most recently in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals group-stage match in November. The Murray-Djokovic rivalry is fast becoming the game's number one contest. With Rafa Nadal still struggling with injury, and Federer not quite the force he once was, Murray and Djokovic have emerged as the most consistent players on the tour.
Djokovic starts as favourite and will undoubtedly benefit from an extra day of rest ahead of the final. Many see his stroll against Ferrer, a match in which he expended very little energy, as the perfect preparation for the final, but the fact that Murray has come through a real test of nerve may just give him a psychological boost going onto the match. One thing is for certain, if Murray serves as consistently as he did for large parts of his semi-final win, he stands a brilliant chance of making history. Murray is now far more aggressive in the big matches than he was 12 months ago and it's working. Sunday provides the next big test of Andy Murray's tennis credentials. I, for one, believe he can pass it.
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