Thursday, 29 January 2015

Murray through to a fourth final

The first Mens Semi Final was seeded to be Federer v Nadal but they are history and tonight would see sixth seed Andy Murray attempting to make his fourth final here at Melbourne Park while his opponent Tomas Berdych tried to prevent that and book a spot in his second ever Grand Slam tournament final and first Aus Open decider.

Berdych has been exemplary throughout the tournament and his straight sets disposal of Nadal was especially noteworthy.  Murray has looked sharp from the outset with his win over Dimitrov one of the best matches so far.

The two have met 10 times with Berdych holding a 6-4 edge, but they haven't played each other since 2013.  The last time they met in a Grand Slam tournament was the 2012 US Open semi final which Murray won en route to his maiden victory at the highest level.

On what has been shown this past week or so, and at Aus Opens and GS events past, I would find it hard to see Murray losing tonight.  However upsets have occurred and there are rational arguments in favour of a Berdych success.  The prospect was for an entertaining clash irrespective.

Berdych in his first two service games was tidy while Murray struggled to hold his opening effort but after the opening three it was on serve 1-2 Murray.  2-3 and the pattern followed - Berdych serving consistently and big, winning a number of free points, while Murray served well but gave enough points away to keep Berdych interested.

Murray recovered from 0-30 to eventually hold though it took quite a few game points. One rally featured Murray running down a Berdych drop shit and flicking it cross court for a brilliant winner.  Berdych kept holding serve with ease 4-3 to the Czech player.

Berdych had been playing several forehands and backhands very deep keeping Murray on the defensive and he won a couple of points this way in the eighth game before he squeezed a stunning backhand return down the line to bring up two break points. Murray couldn't handle another backhand which was shoved into the net and the first break was achieved.  Berdych was serving for the set at 5-3.

For the first time Berdych found trouble on serve and on the second of two break points Murray won a long rally full of terrific shots cross court and down the line when Berdych netted a forehand. 4-5 with Murray playing catch up.

At 5-5 Berdych confirmed that his serve had gone off the boil and because he had to participate in more rallies with Murray he was exposed to the greater execution and variety displayed by the sixth seed.  However Murray was not immune to errors and he could not convert the break chances he had so Berdych eventually held for 6-5.

After an anxious moment or two it was tie break time.

Points went against serve for most of the first part of the tie break and when Berdych double faulted when leading 4-3 he must have felt he'd wasted a big chance. To his credit he held his nerve and didn't lose another point on his serve and it was Murray who netted for the set to go to the seventh seed 7-6, eight points to six in the breaker.

Tomas was rapt and he left to celebrate with friends at a local wine bar. Upon his return Andy had clocked up the first five games of the second set. Berdych had let his guard down and Murray had retained his focus, sensed a gap in Berdych's and drove his truck straight through it.

Although Murray had left Berdych without a game to his name in set two, it was still just one set apiece and if Tomas could put his mind to the task at hand he might just realise that it wasn't all gloom and doom.

And so serves were held for awhile in the third set, not always convincingly but until Berdych stepped up to the line in the sixth game some sense of normality had returned.  Then Murray broke and Tomas was officially in dire straits.
At 5-3 Murray, with barely any resistance, strolled to 40-15 before Berdych played a terrific point and raised hopes with a sparkling winner.  Too little too late and Murray smashed a big serve to win the set and take a firm grip on the match leading 6-7 6-0 6-3.

The fourth set saw some average tennis for the first four or five games but it picked up from there and some wonderful stroke play off the racquet of Murray plus better serving from Berdych resulted in service holds to 4-5 with Murray's serve to come.

Once more it was Berdych who came undone on serve, with a double fault and some loose groundstrokes handing a break to Murray and he would serve for a place in the final at 6-5.

Quick as you like it was 40-0 and Andy Murray only needed one match point as an ace sealed the deal 6-7 6-0 6-3 7-5.

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