Saturday, January 30, 2016

AUSTRALIAN OPEN: Murray survives Raonic to set-up final rematch with Djokovic

The Murray clan have got a lot to be proud of as both Andy and Jamie have become the first brothers in the Open Era to reach the finals in men’s singles and doubles at a grand slam.

Andy Murray on Friday pulled off a tough escape against Milos Raonic to beat the Canadian No13 seed 4-6, 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2 in a four-hour battle and reach his fifth Australian Open final, where he takes on his long-time nemesis Novak Djokovic.

The world No2 joins his brother Jamie as a finalist in Melbourne with the latter set to play his third consecutive grand slam doubles final when he takes to the court alongside his partner Bruno Soares on Saturday against Daniel Nestor and Radek Stepanek.

“For it to be the first time to happen is incredible really. I never would have expected that,” Andy told reporters on Friday.

“(This is) Obviously something that's going to be extremely rare. You're not going to see it very often. We should enjoy it and be proud of it because it's a tough thing to do.”

Looking to reach a ninth grand slam final, Andy struggled to get a read on the massive Raonic serve early on as the Canadian, playing just his second major semi-final, came out blazing.

The world No14 made a nerveless start breaking the Murray serve at love. Raonic saved all three break points to consolidate and protected the advantage he had throughout the set.

The 25-year-old got his first two set points with a 230km/hr service winner and took the set on his second chance, challenging a serve that was mistakenly called out. Murray got a break point in the second game of the second set but a Raonic serve-forehand one-two punch saw the No13 seed get out of trouble.

In the third game, Raonic asked umpire Jake Garner which mark was from Murray’s serve before challenging, and winning the challenge. Murray complained to Garner saying: “You said to challenge in a clear and timely manner. In my opinion, that’s not a clear and timely manner.”

After holding for a 2-1 lead, Murray told Garner in the changeover: “I hope you’re consistent with that for the rest of the match.”

Raonic faced a break/set point, serving at 5-6, and he netted a volley to hand over the set. The third set was a tight affair and remained on serve throughout. Raonic got a break point in the 11th game but Murray survived it. The set went to a tiebreak in which Raonic opened a 5-2 gap and sealed it with an ace.

Three games into the fourth set, Raonic needed an off-court medical timeout to treat an adductor injury. The 1.96m Canadian was never the same again, failing to push off his leg on serve and struggling to move well.

Murray held for 2-2 upon resumption of play before Raonic, who had been ice-cold thus far, got testy with Garner, demanding the umpire overrule the poor line calls, telling him: “I have to play him, not you. Do your freaking job.”

Two games later, Murray broke Raonic at love for a 4-3 lead. Raonic got a break point in the following game but Murray covered the net well to save it and gave about 10 fist pumps in a row to celebrate. Raonic wasted two break points as Murray served for the set at 5-4 but the Scot hung on and took the set on his second chance with a service winner to force a fifth.
Keeping his cool up to that point, Raonic double-faulted to get broken in the opening game of the decider and smashed his racquet in frustration to the sound of echoing boos from the stands. Murray broke again and it wasn’t long before he sealed the win on his first opportunity with an inside out forehand winner.

Amelie Mauresmo, Murray’s coach, said she was amazed at her charge’s fighting spirit.

“He was incredible. He was in a bit of trouble out there and Milos definitely improved a lot and his serve was really hard, I thought Andy, at the beginning, had a lot of trouble reading it, and then as the match went on, he was reading it better and better so that was really a big satisfaction,” said the Frenchwoman, who won the Australian Open title herself 10 years ago.

“He never gives up, that’s basically what happened tonight. And in the fifth set he was able to physically and mentally go over Milos, but yeah, a tough one tonight.”

Murray said he wasn’t surprised by Raonic’s high-quality display but admits he suffered a slow start due to the adjustments he had to make between warming up indoors and ending up playing with the roof open.
It hurts light hell now at this moment. The heartbreak and the disappoint. Regardless, I will not let this keep me down. That is not how I was raised and that is not the kind of person that I am. I thrive of challenges and of difficult moments that on the other side make me better and make me stronger. It's infuriating for the tournament to end on this note and to have to face this knot in my stomach. But it's not the end. Not by any means. I am better than that and I will overcome the challenges my body presents to me, I work far to damn hard and commit every waking moment to tennis, my ambitions and my goals, to not do that. I will grow from this and I will learn. I will give myself this opportunity again and I will move on in a better light. It may not be today or tomorrow but I am gonna do everything to make sure it's someday! At the end of the day, it has been a very special January. I have showed great amounts of improvement and development in my tennis. I have played great and I have done a whole lot of winning. That feels great and I will keep pushing that forward. A huge thank you to the fans and supporters who show their love and passion, on court, through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any other way possible. You guys are great to me and I am forever grateful. I will much more to cheer for. With much love! Milos
A photo posted by Milos Raonic (@mraonic) on
A heartbroken Raonic spoke to reporters after the match revealing he felt his adductor problem midway through the third set.

“Yeah, it's unfortunate. Probably the most heartbroken I felt on court, but that's what it is,” said Raonic, who struck 78 unforced errors against 72 winners yesterday.

Asked if he felt he still had a chance to fight through the pain, Raonic added: “I think maybe that's why I sort of lashed out after I did at the start of the fifth set.

“I guess that was sort of just the whole frustration of everything sort of getting out. I don't think that's like myself to do, but sometimes it's a little bit too much to keep in.”

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