Andy Murray aims to get better of old pal and Berdych
Andy Murray set his sights on getting the better of an old friend after ending home hopes in the Australian Open in ruthless style in Melbourne.
Murray silenced a 15,000-strong crowd on Rod Laver Arena by using all his experience to beat talented teenager Nick Kyrgios 6-3 7-6 (7/5) 6-3 and set up a clash tomorrow with Czech Tomas Berdych, who had earlier dispatched Rafael Nadal in similar fashion.
Berdych is coached by Murray's long-term friend and former assistant coach Dani Vallverdu, who - along with fitness trainer Jez Green - left the Murray camp at the end of last season.
Murray was reluctant to discuss Vallverdu, but joked: "We'll see how the match plays out and what the tactics are and stuff. But I also know what Dani thinks of Berdych's game because he's told me, so it works both ways."
Victory over Kyrgios improved Murray's record against Australian players to 11-0 and saw him produce 13 aces and just one double fault, with the only minor blip coming when he let a break of serve slip in the third set.
Kyrgios backed Murray to go all the way to Sunday's final and claim his third grand slam title.
"He was way too good for me," the 19-year-old from Canberra said. "I said to him at the net, 'This is your time; go get him.' I think he's got a really good chance of winning the whole thing."
Kyrgios looked understandably edgy on such a big stage in his home grand slam and received a warning from the umpire for an audible obscenity as he battled to save two set points. And although he did so to force Murray to serve for the set, the 27-year-old did so with ease to take it after 32 minutes.
In the next, Murray almost faltered when it mattered most, in the tie-break.
A brilliant forehand lob helped Murray into a 5-4 lead with two serves to come, only for him to serve his first double fault of the contest after Kyrgios successfully challenged a line call.
However, a service winner earned his first set point - and had Kyrgios smashing his racket into the ground in disgust - before another superb lob secured the set.
Murray eventually took the match in two hours and five minutes.
Kyrgios could be heard during the match complaining that his troublesome back was "cooked" and added: "Two weeks ago I wasn't even sure I'd be playing the event. It's just been a massive couple of weeks just trying to get fit.
"I'm actually happy. I wanted to win, but having said that, it's been a massive couple of weeks. I am just happy that I was able to compete."