Andy Murray had beaten Roger Federer 10 times in 19 previous attempts, but never before in three Grand Slam matches. That changed on Friday in the men's semifinal of the 2013 Australian Open, as Murray emerged victorious at Melbourne Park, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 6-2.
The crowd was in a frenzy cheering on two of the game's best at Rod Laver Arena, and the four-hour match came to a close when Federer struck a forehand long to cap a dominant decider by the Scot.
It should have been over before that, though.
Murray held a two-sets-to-one advantage and was on serve at 6-5 to close it out in the fourth. But after the first point of the game, in which Federer glared across the net at his British counterpart, the 17-time major champion responded to force a tiebreaker.
The Australian Open's official Twitter account documented Murray's disappointment after being on the cusp of victory and getting crushed 7-2 in the tiebreaker by King Roger:
This was the first time that Federer had ever played back-to-back five-set matches, which is a testament to just how impressive it was for him to dig deep to push Murray to another set—especially after losing serve at love in the previous game.
However, as he's proven able to do with more frequency, particularly over the past six months, Murray responded with an outstanding fifth set.
Murray's fitness gave FedEx issues all evening. Although this was Federer's unprecedented 10th Australian Open semifinal appearance in a row, he was at a decided disadvantage from the beginning.
The first set went to Murray, as Federer fought off six break points but was broken on serve at 1-1, which proved to be the difference. A huge rally in the second-set tiebreak, in which Federer slammed a backhand winner at five-all, helped keep the match close.
As incredible of a player as Federer has been over the years, the previous marathon against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Murray's combination of power and ability to extend rallies were ultimately insurmountable.
It was a stunning display of serving from Murray, who registered 21 aces and won 63 percent of his second-serve points, while Federer won less than half and notched only five aces. Federer also wasn't particularly efficient overall, smashing 43 winners that were offset by 60 unforced errors.
After the match, the event's official Twitter page logged Murray's reflection on the ramifications of his win over arguably the greatest player of all time:
If recent history is any indication, the 25-year-old is pretty much over losing big matches to Federer.
Having not dropped a set in the tournament prior to this match, it was clear that Murray was the fresher of the two players.
Now, incredibly, Murray will square off against two-time reigning champion Novak Djokovic in the final, hoping to earn his second consecutive Grand Slam title.
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