Semi-final bound: Andy Murray celebrates his hard-fought quarter-final win over David Ferrer. Photo: Cameron Spencer Tough encounter: Andy Murray is congratulated by David Ferrer after their quarter-final battle. Photo: Vincent Thian
The narrative of the tournament has been one of little surprise. Yes Rafa departed early but his body issues ensured that were was no blindsiding in that.
Novak won, a few precocious gits acted like precocious gits, Serena beat Maria. Again. And now Andy Murray is in another semi-final.
If this sounds familiar it is because it is the sixth time the Scot has made the semi-finals at the Australian Open. Four times already he has made the final, too, so if the tournament sticks to this wrinkle-free narrative Murray will play Djokovic in the final. And lose.
Murray has now beaten David Ferrer in their past six matches. All of them were close, each set narrowly decided, but ultimately Murray won. This is how it is meant to be in seeded tournaments, but there is always space for the unexpected.
Ferrer offered nothing unexpected, which is not to say he might not have won. It would have been unexpected if he was wiped. It was a match that went to expectations: it was tight; it ebbed; it flowed; there was little discernible difference between them; Ferrer won a set, was in absolutely every set; and then lost.
Murray won the first set in relative ease, which created a first for Ferrer – he was the only man in the last eight not to have dropped a set in reaching the quarter-finals – but was broken immediately in the second. The set and then the match became a wrestle.
Murray aced to save one set point, which meant the game ended up going to a tie break that the Spaniard won.
Murray was frustrated with his own game, bleating to his box about his forehand in particular and looking challengingly at his coach Amelie Maursemo as if to ask what was she going to do about it.
After dropping a set it was like he calmed and lifted his game. He broke Ferrer’s serve early then, inexplicably given it was hosing down in Geelong and the idea it might rain here was well anticipated, organisers decided now was the time to close the roof and not three games earlier during the set break.
“I found it easier to return [after the roof closed]. It was a bit windy early … that helped me a little bit on the return,” Murray said. “But I think it was good to good to have a break, we played some brutal rallies in that second set.
“It’s tough. In those situations ideally I would have played the next game and held serve after the break … but I like to play indoors, I grew up in Scotland and the weather is not quite like here so I like it.” The game resumed and it was those half moments that differentiated them. Like the low running passing shot from the back corner of the court to help ensure he held his serve in the fourth set after breaking Ferrer.
The greatest twist this day delivered was not in the play of this match but in its consequence. By Murray winning, after Johanna Konta won on centre court before him, it ensured that two Brits (OK one is from Scotland and the other lived here for half her life) have reached the semi-finals of a major for the first time since 1977.
Murray has now made the semi-finals here for the sixth time (and the 18th time in all grand slams). He has also has made the final here four times before without taking the title. Now getting there and beating Roger or Novak would be a wrinkle in the narrative.
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