Austrailian open: Murray one step from first slam titleThere he was, mouth agape, roaring like a Highlands warrior in full battle cry in “Braveheart.” The force from Andy Murray’s lungs seemed to add heft to the forehand winner he hurled down the line. The match turned there — in the fifth game of the second set — and it would not be long before the 22-year-old Scot was on his way to the Australian Open final.
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — There he was, mouth agape, roaring like a Highlands warrior in full battle cry in “Braveheart.”
The force from Andy Murray’s lungs seemed to add heft to the forehand winner he hurled down the line. The match turned there — in the fifth game of the second set — and it would not be long before the 22-year-old Scot was on his way to the Australian Open final.
After dropping serve twice in the opening set to Croatia’s Marin Cilic, Murray recovered to win the semifinal 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 and reach his second Grand Slam final.
“It was really important because I don’t want to say the match was slipping away from me, but the momentum was definitely with him,” Murray said.
Now, with only top-ranked Roger Federer or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga ahead, he is one win from breaking a drought for British men at the four majors that dates to Fred Perry in 1936.
That’s a lot of pressure on Murray. It proved too much for the likes of Tim Henman, John Lloyd and others. But the pressure valve was released, at least for a few sets Thursday night, in one riveting point.
Murray raced to the net to reach a ball that had caught the net and dropped onto his side. He then made a lunging volley to extend the rally and sprinted back to the baseline to chase down Cilic’s deep lob. Somehow, spinning as he swung the racket blindly right to left, he hit a forehand winner past Cilic.
Then he roared a prolonged roar.
The challenge from Cilic, who had beaten Murray in straight sets in the fourth round of the U.S. Open, faded. The more than eight hours he had spent on court across five matches had taken its toll.
“He played some really aggressive tennis ... was putting me under a lot of pressure,” Murray said. “But, yeah, that shot made a big difference. I just managed to chase it down.”
After watching the replay, he added in his understated monotone: “I never realized my mouth was so big.”
And, by the way, he insists he practices that shot.
Murray is the first British man to reach two Grand Slam finals in the Open era and the first to reach the Australian Open final since Lloyd in 1977. He will watch Friday night’s semifinal between Federer, a three-time Australian champ, and Tsonga, the 2008 runner-up.