Andy Murray clinches final place in Australian Open
Andy Murray has reached the final of the Australian Open after beating David Ferrer 4-6 7-6 (7/2) 6-1 7-6 (7/2).
Murray required a good start to the second set and got it by breaking Ferrer in his first service game. A more assertive approach to the rallies paid dividends as he twice sneaked into the net to cut off passing shots.
But just as he did in the first set, Murray promptly threw away the advantage, his sloppy backhand into the net on the third break point symptomatic of his mindset.
A further demonstration of his mental meltdown came in the next game came when, having established a 15-30 edge, he incorrectly challenged a Ferrer first serve, handing the Spaniard the point and allowing him to avert the danger.
Murray regained his poise with a comfortable hold but found trouble once again on his next service game as he fell behind 15-40. He got back to deuce with two big first serves, as he did when Ferrer set up a third.
A Murray ace - just his second of the match - gave him a game point and another big serve out wide saw him hold for 3-3.
There were signs Murray was starting to regain his rhythm and two lovely volleys got him to deuce on Ferrer's next service game but he was unable to make the breakthrough.
The 23-year-old from Dunblane continued to venture to the net as he comfortably made it 4-4 but he then played a terrible game when he should have been putting the pressure on his opponent as Ferrer held to love.
The alarm bells were ringing when Ferrer brought up a set point for a two-love lead which Murray saved with an unreturnable serve. And a cool volley from Murray and wide forehand from Ferrer saw him escape.
It could have proved a turning point as Murray promptly broke for a 6-5 lead, clinching the game with a drop shot which Ferrer could only steer into the net, but Ferrer hit straight back to take the set to a tie-break.
The momentum, which had swung one way and then the other, appeared to be with the Spaniard but he played a woeful breaker as Murray won 7-2 to level the match.
Both players had relatively easy holds before Ferrer brought up a break point for a 2-1 lead but slapped a backhand pass into the net, prompting a cry of anguish. A second opportunity was saved by a booming Murray serve and some more big-serving got him out of trouble.
And having averted the danger, Murray made his move by breaking Ferrer to 15 as the Scot suddenly came to life.
He held with ease to make it 4-1 and, for the first time, assumed control of the match.
A stunning lob on the run saw Murray break again for a 5-1 advantage and, although he had to save five break points, he served it out to take the lead.
Murray remained on the front foot and he brought up three break points with a brilliant sliced backhand winner down the line and converted the first when Ferrer put a wild forehand long.
He also had chances for a 3-0 lead but Ferrer bravely stemmed the tide to remain just one break down.
And the Spaniard got it back on serve in the next game as Murray's concentration went AWOL.
Having looked so composed since the second-set tie-break the fifth seed was starting to look frustrated again and he voiced his displeasure in the direction of his box when Ferrer held for a 3-2 lead.
Ferrer looked refreshed and it took a stunning pass on the run for Murray to claim the next game.
A simple hold followed for Ferrer - although one volley at the net from Murray defied belief with the ball sailing well out.
Murray upped the tempo at 4-4, coming back from 30-0 down to 30-30 but two stunning volleys meant Ferrer remained one game in front at 5-4.
The threat remained in Ferrer's next service game and a clever flicked backhand and a firm volley got him back to deuce from 40-15 down. He could not get a break point, though, and a loud expletive at the end of the game emphasised his irritation.
The set went to another breaker in which Murray upped the aggression to move 4-1 up and an ace out wide extended his lead at the change of ends.
A wide backhand from Ferrer brought up five match points and although he saved one, an angled drop shot paved the way for Murray to clinch the match in three hours and 46 minutes.