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Andy takes inspiration from Stan the man ahead of Novak battle

By Tom Allnutt

Published 30/01/2016

Long haul: Andy Murray (left) after beating Milos Raonic
Long haul: Andy Murray (left) after beating Milos Raonic

Andy Murray insists past defeats will mean nothing when he takes on Novak Djokovic for the fourth time in the Australian Open final.

Murray sealed another shot at the title after coming from behind to win an epic five-set battle with Canada's Milos Raonic 4-6 7-5 6-7 (4/7) 6-4 6-2.

The victory puts Murray through to his fifth Melbourne final and a fourth against Djokovic, to whom he has previously lost in 2011, 2013 and last year.

The world number one has dominated the match-up overall too, leading the pair's head-to-head 21-9 and winning 10 of their last 11 meetings.

It means the British number one is the big underdog ahead of tomorrow's clash but he has stretched Djokovic before and can take belief from others who have turned the tide.

Stan Wawrinka knocked the Serb out in the 2014 quarter-finals after a run of 14 straight defeats and went on to win his maiden grand slam on Rod Laver Arena by beating Rafael Nadal for the first time in 13 matches.

"The previous disappointments, it's one tennis match, it doesn't matter what's happened in the past really," Murray said.

"It's about what happens on Sunday. People like to read into what's happened in the past, but Stan beat Rafa in the final here.

"I don't think he'd ever won against him in 13 attempts. When he beat Novak here, the same as well. There's no reason it's not possible for me to win."

To pull it off Murray is likely to need all his physical reserves but the Scot's marathon battle with Raonic, which took four hours and three minutes, may have lasting effects.

Murray also has one day less to recover than his opponent, who played his semi-final on Thursday, and the top seed spent 104 minutes fewer beating Roger Federer in four sets.

"I think obviously if you play a quick match on the Friday, it doesn't really make a huge difference," Murray said.

"Obviously if you play the five sets it isn't ideal but Novak also won here the time we played five hours and then he played a six-hour final. So it's doable."

Murray was twice a set down against Raonic, who served 23 aces to Murray's nine and hit 72 winners to the Scot's 38.

The world number two, however, gradually picked up the Canadian's booming serve and stayed strong on his own, conceding the break only once during the entire match.

"When you play against someone who is tough to break like Milos, you need to protect your own serve to put pressure on them," Murray said.

"It is one of the most important shots, if not the most important."

Raonic, bidding to reach his first major final, was hampered by an injury to his right adductor muscle from the end of the third set and by the fifth he was severely impaired.

Murray took full advantage, breaking twice to win the decider with ease as the usually placid Raonic vented his frustration by banging his racket on the ground.

"It is the most heartbroken I've felt on court," he said.

For Murray, the joy of reaching a ninth grand slam final is accentuated by his brother's success after Jamie made the final of today's men's doubles alongside Bruno Soares.

It is the first time two brothers have reached separate finals at the same grand slam since Lawrence and Reginald Doherty at Wimbledon in 1906.

Belfast Telegraph

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