Australian Open: Andy Murray can see best chance for Slam title joy opening up
Andy Murray has always insisted that he never looks beyond the next match but a tingle must have run down his spine last night.
Murray has to beat David Ferrer today to reach Sunday's final of the Australian Open, but Roger Federer's defeat in yesterday's first semi-final means that neither the greatest player of all time nor Rafael Nadal, the current world No 1, now stand in the 23-year-old Scot's path as he attempts to become the first British winner of a Grand Slam singles title for 75 years.
Twenty-four hours after a hamstring injury helped to send Nadal out of the tournament, Federer lost his grip on the last Grand Slam title that he held when he was crushed 7-6, 7-5, 6-4 by Novak Djokovic, who on Sunday will attempt to reclaim the crown he won here three years ago.
Murray, nevertheless, will endeavour to focus all his energies on his match against Ferrer, who beat Nadal in straight sets on Wednesday and is not an opponent to be taken lightly.
The 28-year-old Spaniard is unbeaten this year, having won in Auckland in the first week of the season. He has also won three of his five matches against Murray, although the Briton will take heart from the fact that he won both their encounters on hard courts, including the most recent in London two months ago.
“His length has always been one of his main strengths,” Murray said of Ferrer yesterday.
“He gets really good depth on the ball and good penetration. That's why he had such a great match against Rafa. He was on top of his game and took a lot of chances, which came off. He never gives up and will chase everything down, so I'll have to be patient and mix up my game. I'm looking forward to the match-up.”
Asked whether his mental approach to the semi-final had changed because he would not be facing Nadal, Murray insisted: “It's still the same. Ferrer's a great player, so it hasn't changed at all. He's the world No 7 and coming off the back of a win in New Zealand. For me it's business as usual.”
Ferrer has only ever played in one Grand Slam semi-final, which he lost to Djokovic at the US Open four years ago, but insisted he would treat today's encounter as “just another match”.
He added: “Andy is a top player, but I am confident.”