Australian Open: Andy Murray beats David Ferrer in semi
Australian Open final - Andy Murray v Novak Djokovic Venue: Melbourne Park Date: 30 January Coverage: Watch on BBC One, Red Button, BBC Sport website (UK only) & Eurosport from 0815 GMT; listen on BBC 5 live sports extra and online from 0830 GMT; text commentary online from 0730 GMT;
Gutsy Murray reaches final
By Piers Newbery
Andy Murray needed all his fighting spirit as he toiled to a four-set win over David Ferrer to reach a second successive Australian Open final.
The Briton, seeded fifth, won 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-1 7-6 (7-2) to set up a final against Novak Djokovic on Sunday.
Murray produced an error-strewn performance in the face of Spaniard Ferrer's class and relentless energy.
But he battled back from the brink of a two-set deficit and is now one win away from a first Grand Slam title.
"Ferrer's an unbelievable athlete and competitor," Murray said afterwards. "He works so hard. I was expecting an unbelievably tough match and I got it.
"He's such a tough player to play against. He was dictating at the start and I had to start going for my shots more and it paid off. There will always be some nerves in a Grand Slam semi-final and that was the case today."
He lost his rhythm towards the end of the third set and I was hitting the ball cleaner. My level dropped again but then I found it again
Serve was dominant in a low-key start to the match, with Murray misfiring a little on his groundstrokes, but the first opportunity for either man came when he got to deuce at 3-3 with some attacking returns, and Ferrer faltered with forehand and backhand errors.
Murray had his break without having got out of first gear but immediately found himself under pressure at 15-40 in the following game as Ferrer stepped up the pace, and the seventh seed clinched it by ending a magnificent rally at the net.
The match had now come alive and a beautiful backhand down the line took Murray to 15-30 in the next game before a similar stroke at the end of a hypnotic 40-shot rally earned him another two break points, but a Ferrer ace and a snatched return into the net saw the Spaniard escape.
Murray now carried the pressure and when Ferrer earned himself a set point, the world number five blazed a forehand wide - his 16th unforced error - to lose a set he had earlier controlled.
The subdued Briton needed a lift and he got exactly that at the start of the second, breaking when Ferrer sent a forehand long, but it did not signal a change in the rhythm of the match as the exasperated Murray found himself 0-40 down moments later and netted a backhand on the third break point.
As the second set progressed, it was the Spaniard who increasingly looked in command as a bewildered Murray just could not find a way through his defences and time after time ended lengthy rallies with a mistake of his own.
Clearly rattled by the way the match was going, and in regular dialogue with the umpire, Murray was in deep trouble at 15-40 in game seven of the second set but served his way out of trouble.
I had to switch to plan B - Murray
The errors kept on coming though and Murray was staring at a two-set deficit as Ferrer, 5-4 up and bristling with intent, hammered an attacking return at 30-30 to force error number 32, but Murray saw off the set point with a big serve down the middle and clung on.
Finally, Ferrer showed a crack in his armour after seeing that opportunity slip by and, at break point down in the following game, he surprisingly netted a mid-court backhand after easily chasing down a Murray drop shot.
Murray now had his chance to get right back in the match but he could not capitalise, failing to find a first serve from 30-30 and leaking a backhand wide on break point, and having dropped serve immediately after breaking for the third time in the match, the signs looked very ominous going into the tie-break.
The Scot required a serious step-up in quality and he produced it, opening with a fizzing return and racing to a 6-0 lead before converting his third set point to get back on level terms after two hours of largely desperate stuff.
Ferrer remained the aggressor as the crucial third set began, dominating Murray's second serve, but two break points went begging at 1-1 when he clipped the tape with an attempted pass before Murray sent down an ace on the second.
With his normally trusty backhand malfunctioning, Murray hit through a couple of heavy forehands down the line to grab the momentum in game four and a fierce return saw him break for 3-1, before a magnificent forehand lob sealed the double break in game six.
Murray closed out the set after seeing off five break points, and the momentum shift was well and truly established when a magical backhand winner from out wide helped him break to love at the start of the fourth.
When Ferrer faced a break point at 2-0 down his challenge appeared almost over but he survived, and the value of that hold was immediately obvious as Murray's purple patch came to an end and the Spaniard broke back to love for 2-2.
A tense set ebbed and flowed without offering up any further break points and, looking to avoid the dreaded fifth set, Murray again opened the tie-break impressively by winning the first three points on the Ferrer serve.
An ace from Murray gave him a 5-1 lead at the changeover and, after three hours and 45 minutes, a neat half-volley took him through to a third Grand Slam final.
Murray revealed afterwards that he had not known the score when he saved the vital set point in the second set.
"I actually thought it was 4-3 - just before the umpire called it 5-5," he said. "It happens occasionally. I was so focused and wrapped up - it probably helped me out and I hope it doesn't happen again.
"He lost his rhythm towards the end of the third set and I was hitting the ball cleaner. My level dropped again but then I found it again."
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