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Australian Open 2016

Andy Murray sinks Milos Raonic in five sets to reach fifth Australian Open final

World No 2 faces Melbourne Park nemesis Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s match, where the Scot, whose defensive efforts helped him conquer the Canadian in the semi-final, hopes to break his drought

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 January, 2016, 10:57pm
UPDATED : Friday, 29 January, 2016, 10:57pm

Now that he has reached the Australian Open final for the fifth time, Andy Murray has a more anxious wait than ever to see if he can break his drought.

No 2-ranked Murray had a 4-6, 7-5, 6-7 (7-4), 6-4, 6-2 win over No 13-seeded Milos Raonic in a momentum-swinging match that finished just before midnight on Friday.

Murray, who has lost all four previous finals he has contested at Melbourne Park, will play the championship decider on Sunday night against five-time champion Novak Djokovic, who has never lost a title match on Rod Laver Arena.

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“Five finals is a great achievement. I have to be proud of that achievement,” Murray said. “Doesn’t matter what’s happened in the past. What matters is what happens Sunday.”

Three of Djokovic’s wins in Australia have come in finals against his old friend Murray, every odd-numbered year since 2011.

“He loves playing on this court – we’ve played a bunch of times here,” Murray said. “Hopefully, it can be a different result.”

Murray has had a lot on his mind this time. His wife, Kim, is back in Britain and due to have their first baby next month. Kim’s father, Nigel Sears, was in Melbourne as coach for Ana Ivanovic and had to be rushed to a hospital by ambulance during one of her matches on Rod Laver Arena, which happened to coincide with Murray’s third-round match on an adjacent arena.

Sears spent a night in hospital, with Murray visiting, but was considered well enough to return home. Murray said before arriving in Australia that he would leave immediately if needed at home. While his father-in-law was being treated in hospital, he thought his departure may have been earlier than expected.

Five finals is a great achievement. I have to be proud of that ... Doesn’t matter what’s happened in the past. What matters is what happens Sunday
Andy Murray

He won his next two matches in straight sets, shaking out some of the emotions.

He had more to contend with against Raonic, who was playing in only his second grand slam semi-final, and aiming to be the first Canadian man to reach the final of a major.

In an unusual start, the first seven points of the match went against serve, with Raonic breaking at love and then facing triple break point before holding for a 2-0 lead. It was Raonic’s only service break of the match, with Murray fending off six other break-point chances.

Raonic was hampered by an adductor problem in his upper right leg from late in the third set. He needed a medical timeout, and later in the fourth set had a massage from the trainer.

“I couldn’t push off, I couldn’t get up to serve, and I couldn’t change direction,” Raonic said. “Probably the most heartbroken I’ve felt on court.”

After having his serve broken to open the fifth set, Raonic walked back to his chair and angrily smashed his racket on the hard court surface twice, breaking it.

I couldn’t push off, I couldn’t get up to serve, and I couldn’t change direction
Milos Raonic

“I guess that was sort of just the whole frustration of everything sort of getting out,” said Raonic, who tends not to be demonstrative on court.

Murray went on a run of winning 20 of 25 points to go ahead 4-0 and all but clinch the four-hour match, and a spot in a ninth grand slam final.

Raonic finished with 78 unforced errors, 50 more than Murray, but also hit 72 winners to 38 for the two-time major winner.

Murray said he sensed Raonic slowing down, but had to keep his mind on his own side of the court.

He’ll have to do that again against top-ranked Djokovic, who won 27 of his 28 matches in grand slams in 2015.

“I need to keep my game plan very well, not have any lapses in concentration and just play the best I can,” said Murray, who has won just nine of his 30 career meetings with Djokovic.

Murray’s older brother Jamie is in the doubles final with Bruno Soares against Daniel Nestor and Radek Stepanek on Saturday, giving the Scottish siblings the distinction of being the first brothers to appear in the singles and doubles finals at the same major in the Open era.

The men’s doubles decider follows the women’s final between six-time champion Serena Williams and No 7 seed Angelique Kerber.

In the women’s doubles final on Friday, the No 1-ranked team of Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza beat the Czech pair of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka 7-6 (6-1), 6-3 to extend their winning streak to 36 matches on the way to a third grand slam title together.

Mirza could not extend her run in mixed doubles, losing with her partner Ivan Dodig of Croatia 7-5, 7-6 (4) to Elena Vesnina and Soares in the semi-finals on Friday. Vesnina and Soares will play American Coco Vandeweghe and Horia Tecau of Romania in Sunday’s final.