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Murray tops Federer in Grand fashion

Britain's Andy Murray hits return against Switzerland's Roger Federer during their men's singles semi-final match day 12 Australian Open tennis

Britain's Andy Murray hits a return against Switzerland's Roger Federer during their men's singles semi-final match on day 12 of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 25, 2013. AFP PHOTO / WILLIAM WEST IMAGE STRICTLY RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USEWILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images

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Updated: February 27, 2013 6:19AM



MELBOURNE, Australia — Andy Murray was sucking in deep breaths, trying to recover from his exhausting win over Roger Federer. Pain was very much on his mind.

The U.S. Open champion defeated Federer 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-2 in a four-hour Australian Open semifinal Friday night. It was Murray’s first victory against the 17-time major winner at a Grand Slam event.

But with the clock about to strike midnight, Murray was already thinking about Sunday’s final against two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic, who is on a 20-match winning streak at Melbourne Park. This will be a rematch of their U.S. Open final.

‘‘Every time we play each other, it’s normally a very physical match,’’ Murray said. ‘‘I’ll need to be ready for the pain. I hope it’s a painful match — that’ll mean it’s a good one.’’

Murray had a 10-9 record against Federer but had lost his three previous Grand Slam matches to the Swiss star. One of those defeats came at Wimbledon last year. Murray says the disappointment of that loss triggered his run past Federer to the gold medal at the London Olympics, and then his drought-breaking triumph at the U.S. Open.

‘‘You know, I’ve obviously lost some tough matches against him in Slams,’’ Murray said. ‘‘So to win one, especially the way that it went tonight, yeah, was obviously nice.’’

Murray ended a 76-year drought for British men at the majors when he beat Djokovic in five sets in the final at Flushing Meadows.

He’s hoping the step-by-step manner in which he has crossed career milestones off his to-do list will continue Sunday. He lost four major finals, including two in Australia, before winning a Grand Slam title. He lost three times to Federer in a major before beating him. Even then, he wasted a chance to serve out in the fourth set Friday night as Federer rallied.

‘‘Those matches . . . have helped obviously mentally,’’ he said. ‘‘I think going through a lot of the losses that I’ve had will have helped me as well. Obviously having won against Novak before in a Slam final will help mentally.’’

Djokovic will not be the only defending champ playing for another title this weekend. Victoria Azarenka will face China’s Li Na on Saturday night for the women’s crown.

The first title of the 2013 Australian Open, women’s doubles, was decided Friday when top-seeded Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci of Italy beat unseeded Australians Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.

That was a prelude to the night match, where 15,000 people packed Rod Laver Arena, including the great Laver himself, to see if Federer could reach a sixth Australian final.

He showed flashes of his customary genius but also rare bursts of anger. Murray showed his frustration as well. The crowd started to turn on him after he challenged a call in the eighth game of the fourth set, booing each time he complained to the umpire. His unforced error into the net on the next point prompted a huge cheer.

‘‘We were just checking each other out for bit,’’ Federer said. ‘‘That wasn’t a big deal for me — I hope not for him.’’

When Federer got break point with Murray serving for the match at 6-5, the applause was so prolonged Murray had to wait to serve. And when Federer got the break to force a tiebreaker, the crowd stood and roared as Murray slammed a ball into the court in anger.

The crowd cheered for every Murray error in tiebreaker. One man yelled, “Andy, don’t choke.”

He didn’t.

He allowed Federer only four points in the first three games of the fifth set, bolting to a 3-0 lead and carrying it through to the end.

AP



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