Andy Murray outlasted Roger Federer on Friday to reach his third Australian Open final in four years. Sunday's marquee championship match in Melbourne will pit the third-seeded Murray against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
The reigning U.S. Open champion and Olympic gold medalist Murray edged out the second-seeded Federer in five tremendously entertaining sets, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 6-2, at Rod Laver Arena. The British stalwart had been 0-3 in his previous Grand Slam meetings with the amazing Swiss superstar.
"I just had to keep fighting," said Murray, who advanced in exactly four hours by playing some exquisite tennis on Day 12.
The 25-year-old Murray was the back-to-back Melbourne runner-up in 2010 and 2011, including a loss to the 17-time Grand Slam king Federer three years ago.
An increasingly confident Murray, a titlist in Sydney three weeks ago, needed all five sets to dismiss Federer, but the native of Scotland outplayed Federer for a majority of the night at Laver.
Murray came out firing his serve in the first set, racking up five aces while Federer had none. The second set wasn't a whole lot different, with Murray notching more aces and winners than Federer, but it seemed like whenever a big point was needed, Federer was able to win it.
The third set was controlled by Murray, and then came the tight fourth, which Federer won by willing himself in his second straight five-set outing.
The fifth set, however, was all Murray.
Federer staved off a first match point before Murray converted on a second when Federer misfired long on one final forehand.
Murray, who hadn't lost a set until Friday at this Down Under fortnight, swatted 21 aces, compared to only five for Federer, and the Brit tallied six service breaks, while Federer settled for only two en route to defeat. Murray recorded 19 more winners in advancing.
"Maybe there's just a little bit more belief, or he's a bit more calm overall," Federer said. "It seems like he has more peace when he plays out there, and in the process he has better results."
The athletic Murray is now 11-9 lifetime against Federer, and Friday marked their first-ever five-set showdown. Murray also beat Federer in last year's gold medal match at the All England Club in the London Olympic Games. Federer topped Murray in last year's Wimbledon final, also at the All England Club.
The 31-year-old Federer is a four-time Aussie Open champ and former runner- up.
Murray will now appear in his sixth career Grand Slam final, seeking a second title.
Djokovic is 10-7 lifetime versus his good friend and fellow 25-year-old Murray, including a 2-1 record at the Slams. Murray upset Djokovic in September's U.S. Open finale, while the Serbian star bested the Brit in the Aussie Open semis last year and the final here in 2011.
Djokovic will play in a Grand Slam final for the eighth time in the last 10 majors, dating back to the 2010 U.S. Open. The only two misses in that span were the 2011 French and last year at Wimbledon, when he lost in the semifinals at each event.
The Serbian slugger will try for his sixth career major championship. He won just one last year, as he followed up the Aussie Open crown with a loss to Rafael Nadal in the French final, a loss to Federer in the Wimbledon semis and a loss to Murray in the U.S. Open title match.
Djokovic owns 34 career titles on the ATP World Tour, while Murray is a 25- time champion on the circuit. Djokovic will try to become the first three-peat Aussie Open champ in the Open Era (since 1968), while Murray is hoping to become a back-to-back major titlist for the first time in his career.
Murray is a perfect 10-0 this year, while Djokovic is 6-0 playing in his first tournament of 2013.
Djokovic outlasted Nadal in the longest-ever Grand Slam final here in Melbourne a year ago.