Andy Murray has booked his place in the final of the Australian Open 2016 after a hard fought 4-6, 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2 win over Milos Raonic in a match lasting four hours and three minutes. Earlier on Thursday the defending champion Novak Djokovic produced a near flawless performance to oust the four time champion Roger Federer of Switzerland in four sets. The women’s finalists will be the defending champion Serena Williams who will take on the German Angelique Kerber on Saturday.
Murray dropped serve in the opening game of the match at love and it turned out to be the only time in the match. Raonic had to stave off three break points in the next game and despite failing to secure a double break in the seventh game the thirteenth seeded Raonic raced through the first set in 35 minutes. Murray had a chance to break in the second game and also the sixth game, the Scott finally broke in the twelfth game to seal the set 7-5.
The first five games of the third set were won by the servers without conceding a point. Raonic missed a chance to break in the eleventh game but won the ensuing tie-break in style at 7-4. Murray broke Raonic in the seventh game of the fourth set to love and Raonic missed chances to break in the eighth and the tenth game and on it went to a decider. Raonic was clearly hampered by an adductor injury and struggled to push off and change direction. Murray jumped to a 4-0 lead to begin the fifth set, with two breaks, and served out the match to love with a forehand winner in the eighth game.
In the first semifinal, for those who expected an epic tussle between two players who have played each other forty four times in their career were in for a rude shock when the top seeded Serb who had an uncharacteristic 100 unforced errors on Sunday against the Frenchman Giles Simon produced a dazzling array of winners and raced to a two set lead in just 54 minutes.
It looked as though the seventeen time grand slam winner would suffer a humiliation but Federer refused to go away easily. Breaking serve for the first and, as it turned out, the only time in the match he won the third set 6-3. The organisers then decided to close the roof but it was Djokovic who broke through in the eighth game with the help of a fortuitous forehand winner and a net cord and then served out the match at love. His winning scoreline was 6-1, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
Djokovic will be bidding to claim his sixth Australian Open title and his eleventh overall, while Murray will contest his fifth Australian Open final attempting to win his maiden win in Melbourne to add to his U.S. Open win in 2012, Wimbledon 2013. It will be his ninth grand slam final. Murray’s elder sibling Jamie Murray also reached his third consecutive grand slam final in the men’s doubles competition.
Earlier in the day on Thursday, Serena Williams thumped a clueless Agnieska Radwanska 6-0,6-4 in a repeat of the 2012 Wimbledon final. The 34 year old is now only one win away from claiming her 22nd grand slam title and her seventh Australian Open title.
Only the seventh seeded German Angelique Kerber stands in her way to draw level with Kerber’s compatriot Steffi Graf. The left handed Kerber was pushed in the first set by the 24 year old unheralded Briton Johanna Konta but then scored an emphatic 7-5,6-2. The German who was the only member of the current top ten ladies without a grand slam final had also saved match point in the opening round in the second set tie-break to Japan’s Misaki Doi.
The line up for the final with my pick mentioned first is as under:-
Serena Williams (1) v. Angelique Kerber (7) ; Serena leads 5-1
Novak Djokovic (1) v. Andy Murray (2); Djokovic leads 21-9.
It will be the fourth time that Djokovic and Murray will be contesting the final in Melbourne and Djokovic had also beaten Murray in the 2012 semi final before going on to beat Rafael Nadal in the longest final in grand slam history. If Murray can overcome fatigue and remain calm he certainly has the capacity to beat Djokovic who was his victim in both the majors that he has won in his career. Djokovic on the other hand having an extra day off will be well rested and would be the odds on favourite to claim his sixth title in Melbourne.
The only time Kerber beat Serena was in Cincinnati in 2012 when they met only for the second time having played their first match at the U.S. Open 2007 five years before that. The German has the chance to become the first left hander since Monica Seles in 1996 to win a grand slam title but few would tip her against arguably the greatest women’s tennis player in the history of the game.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]