MELBOURNE • Iron-clad defence triumphed over all-out attack as Andy Murray overhauled Milos Raonic 4-6, 7-5, 6-7(4-7), 6-4, 6-2 yesterday to book another Australian Open final against Melbourne Park nemesis Novak Djokovic.
The world No. 2 came from behind twice to topple the rangy Canadian, who was troubled by a leg injury and finally capitulated after playing majestically for most of the 4hr 3min contest at a floodlit Rod Laver Arena.
After levelling the match at two sets all, Murray broke Raonic in the opening game of the decider and the flustered 13th seed smashed his racquet in frustration before promptly crumbling under the onslaught.
Murray roared to a 4-0 lead before closing out the match with a cross-court winner to reach his fifth final at Melbourne Park.
"I started to get a slightly better read on his serve later on and that was the key," said Murray, who converted four of 16 break points, compared to Raonic's one-of-six. "He definitely slowed down in the fifth set for sure, which was unfortunate for him," the Scot added of Raonic's injury. "I obviously got a bit lucky on that but you just try to focus on your side of the court."
A match pitting one of the game's finest servers against a returning maestro promised fireworks but few would have tipped Raonic to break his opponent to love in the opening game. The 25-year-old held the advantage and closed out the set with a huge serve.
Having missed break point chances at 1-0 and 3-2 in the second set, Murray finally kicked the door open in the 12th game of the second set.
The tension kept rising as the third set went to a tie-break, and Raonic pounced on a weak second serve from Murray to take a 3-1 lead. Serving masterfully, Raonic rocketed a smash that clipped the line to reach 5-2 before closing out the set with one of his 23 aces of the day.
Though the Rod Laver Arena rumbled with the threat of an upset, Raonic barely celebrated and marched straight off court. He exited again, after holding serve to lead 2-1, for a medical timeout on a leg injury but jogged back out onto court appearing untroubled. That was until the seventh game, when he was broken to love in an error-strewn game as Murray ramped up his returning.
Raonic grimaced as he had his right leg worked on by a trainer after holding serve to trail 4-5. But he shrugged off the injury to raise two chances to break back. Murray saved them both and blasted a serve down the middle to level the match.
The Scot never looked back from there, and joined Jamie as the first brothers in the Open Era to reach the singles and doubles finals at the same Grand Slam.