‘Crocodile Dunblane’ targets Aussie Slam


Last year he broke down after losing the final in straight sets to tennis legend Roger Federer.

Tomorrow the lad from Dunblane gets the perfect opportunity to erase the memory of that bitter experience when he meets Federer’s conqueror Novak Djokovic in this Sunday’s Australian Open Final.

It was a relieved Andy Murray who eventually overcame the gritty determination of Spanish opponent David Ferrer to reach his third slam final.  As well as losing to Federer last year, Scotland’s favourite has already lost out to the Swiss legend in the US Open final.

Murray had reached this year’s semi-finals by defeating Alexander Dolgopolov in a gruelling duel.  In the first set against Ferrer, Murray squandered an early break as the Spaniard sealed the set with two of his own.

The second set saw Murray’s nerve hold when, after an exchange of breaks of serve, both players were tied at six games apiece.  The tie break saw the Scot level the match with a series of mini breaks against the Ferrer serve.

In the third set, Murray unleashed a quite awesome display of skill and agility, winning the set 6-1.  Ferrer by now was looking tired as his energetic chase-everything style began to catch up.

However any thoughts that the Scot would run away with the match when he broke the Spaniard early in the fourth set were dispelled when Ferrer immediately hit back.  The two players traded games and eventually reached six all, however Murray’s superior class told in the end as he easily brushed the Spaniard aside to win the second tie break and with it the match.

After the win a delighted Murray praised his opponent and said, “He is an unbelievable athlete, competitive, and he worked so hard.  Obviously I managed to get through in the end but it was hard work, there is a lot of running tonight, pretty physical match.”

In a bizarre admission the Scots hero revealed that at one point in the second set he actually lost track of the score.

He said, “I have been a bit nervous.  And I actually thought it was 4-3 [when in fact he was 5-4 down].  It happens occasionally and it probably helped me this time.  I was wrapped up, not thinking too much,”

Murray now faces No. 3 seed and favourite Novak Djokovic on Sunday.  Djokovic, who won the tournament in 2008, reached the final after defeating reigning champion Roger Federer in Thursday’s other semi final.

Despite being second favourite Murray will feel that he can win this one.  His big pressure match was the semi final and he came through.  Djokovic is a notoriously inconsistent performer who can tense up when the spotlight is on.

The Scot should be the more relaxed and last years experience should help him start well, which could be crucial.  He has the game to cope with the big Serb and his drop shot could be key against an opponent who does not like to come in to the net.

Both players return well so expect plenty of breaks of serve.  The heat may play a factor, a temperature of 40+ is forecast, but the good news for Murray fans is that he has a slight advantage having prepared for this tournament in Miami.

In 2009 Djokovic had to pull out of his quarter-final here because of heat related problems.  This Sunday Andy Murray will seek to apply the same heat to the 23 year old Serbian who he has known since both started their tennis careers as youngsters.