Tennis

Murray reaches the final..

Andy Murray into fifth Australian Open final

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Andy Murray has reached his ninth Grand Slam final and fifth at the Australian Open after triumphing over Milos Raonic in five sets 4-6 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-2.

A gutsy display of hard-hitting and high quality tennis sees the Brit set up a mouth-watering final against world number one Novak Djokovic on Sunday.

Raonic, 25, came into the semi-final clash full of confidence with many tipping him to cause an upset.

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Early signs suggested he had good reason to believe he could do just that when a break in the opening game set the Canadian on his way to taking the opening set 6-4.

The second set was just as tight as the two ATP heavyweights exchanged blows in a gritty affair.

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Murray, who dropped only four points on serve, had two opportunities to break Raonic midway through the set, but the Canadian stood firm to leave the set finely poised at 4-4.

The 28-year-old then held to 30 before pushing his big-serving Canadian opponent to deuce; however, he was unable to capitalise.

Britain's Davis Cup hero then held to love before Raonic cracked when it mattered the most.

At 5-6 down, 30-30 became 30-40 and Murray duly obliged – taking the second set and levelling the match at the first time of asking.

Both men were untouchable on serve in the third; neither lost a point with the ball on their racket until Murray made it 15-15 in the sixth game.

The two-time Grand Slam winner won 16 straight points from the end of the second set until finally succumbing at 15-15 before holding to lead 4-3.

Five further holds, three for Murray and two for Raonic, meant the set would be decided by a tie-breaker with both players desperate to seize the advantage.

2016 Australian Open - Day 12

Murray, who turns 29 in May, gifted his determined opponent the mini-break immediately, only to strike back at his first opportunity before falling behind 4-2 at the change of ends.

He clawed it back to within a point at 5-4, but that was as close as he got as Raonic blasted down a trademark serve exceeding 220kmph to take the initiative once again.

After taking the lead, the underdog, who was receiving a huge backing from the Australian crowd, disappeared down the player tunnel of the Rod Laver Arena.

It was later revealed by the Eurosport commentators that he was reportedly suffering from a groin injury.

That said, the 6ft5 giant's movement didn't seem to be hampered as he held the momentum until 3-3 in the fourth set.

The tide changed and Murray broke Raonic to love - a feat no one has achieved since Wimbledon 2015.

2016 Australian Open - Day 12

Yet as Murray sensed a way back into this semi-final, his ground-strokes faltered and he missed two routine forehands that would have consolidated his break.

All of a sudden Murray found himself a point away from being broken back, but he reacted in style.

The Brit won an exhausting rally by following in an accurate approach shot which allowed him to put away a tricky volley – a magnificent play celebrated with several Hewitt-esque fist pumps.

Raonic then saved a set point at 4-5 down but couldn't convert either of his two break-back chances, allowing Murray to level the tie once again at two sets apiece.

Contrasting five-set record

Prior to this epic battle, Murray had an 18-7 record in five-set matches. Those seven defeats predominately came – unsurprisingly – against the usual suspects: Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Raonic came through against Swiss number two Stan Wawrinka in a marathon round four encounter to record not only one of his most impressive Grand Slam victories, but his first five-set triumph in ten months.

However, the world number 14's groin niggle took a turn for the worst and the pre-match underdog's movement was severely affected as a result.

Murray raced away to a 4-0 lead in convincing fashion with two breaks and two service holds to love.

He could have made it 5-0 had he put away one of five break-point chances, but the Canadian registered two consolation games before Murray clinched a hard-fought win.

A mixture of relief and delight could be seen on coach Amelie Mauresmo's face, no doubt matched by millions of Murray fans in Britain as the match concluded at 12:45 GMT.

TENNIS-AUS-OPEN

Murray struggles against Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic, who awaits in the final, casts an imposing shadow on Murray's previous Australian Open final appearances – the world number one has denied him the title on three occasions in 2015, 2014 and 2011.

Post-match, two-time Australian Open winner and American Davis Cup captain Jim Courier interviewed a sweat-ridden Murray, who, despite the length of his encounter, looked to be hardly out of breath.

He highlighted the improvement of his return game during the match as pivotal to his eventual success.

"I started to get a slightly better read on his serve as the match went on, I was able to make a few more returns and that was the key."

Murray awaits first child

After Murray admitted he was hoping for a more competitive final set, Courier mentioned the success of his brother, Jamie, reaching the men's doubles final with Brazillian partner Bruno Soares.

Courier then drew a laugh from the Rod Laver crowd when he joked about the imminent arrival of Murray's first child, asking if he was ready to be a father.

"I hope so, I'm going to find out pretty soon," Murray said.

"I've been reading a lot of books and trying to learn, but obviously when the baby comes you need to adapt.

"I don't think books or any classes are going to make you a great parent. I'll just try and learn along the way."

Can Murray overcome Djokovic in the Australian Open final? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!

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Topics:
Tennis
Novak Djokovic
Australian Open
Andy Murray

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