Andy Murray has defeated Milos Raonic in a hard-fought match to move on to the Australian Open final. This set up a final contest featuring the world's two top-ranked men's players.
The British world No. 2 needed more than four hours to beat his 14th-ranked Canadian opponent 4-6 7-5 6-7(4) 6-4 6-2 in the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne on Friday. This is the fifth time that Murray has reached the Australian Open final, where he will be up against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic on Sunday.
The match was a topsy-turvy affair, with Raonic taking the first and third sets, but the tide turned Murray's way for good at the start of the fifth and final set, when he broke the Canadian's serve. Raonic, previously so cool, outwardly, at least, showed a flash of temper as he walked back to his chair, twice smashing his racket on the hard court surface, breaking it. The Scot then went on a run, winning 20 of 25 points to go ahead 4-0 in the set, all but clinching the match.
Leg ailment hobbles Raonic
Raonic, who made 78 unforced errors compared to 28 for Murray, received treatment on his right leg after the ninth game of the fourth set, and from then on he appeared to be hobbling on the court. Murray, though, was in not in a charitable mood.
"That's something I've learned over the years of playing. When I'm playing a match, I'm not thinking about what he was going through," Murray said of Raonic's apparent injury.
"I'm just trying to use what he's giving me on the court and try to make adjustments to my game if needs be. Obviously if the injury affected him significantly at the end, then that's tough, especially at this stage of an event."
Raonic said the injury and losing the match made him "the most heartbroken I felt on court," but that at no point did he consider retiring.
"Regardless of what situation I was in, I was going to play and try to do whatever I could," the 25-year-old Canadian said.
"I'm happy with where my tennis is at, I just wish I could play... tennis."
Despite having reached the Australian Open final four previous times, Murray has never been able to win it, with three of those final defeats having come against Djokovic, the defending champion.
pfd/msh (AP, Reuters)