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After losing to Andy Murray, Roger Federer picks Novak Djokovic

Andy Murray outplays the former No. 1 player in the fifth set to advance to the final against top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who Federer thinks will retain the title.

January 26, 2013|Wire reports

MELBOURNE, Australia — — Andy Murray was sucking in deep breaths, trying to recover from his exhausting victory over Roger Federer in an Australian Open semifinal Friday night. Pain and Novak Djokovic were on both players' minds.

Murray said he'll "need to be ready for pain" in the final, after beating Federer, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-2, in a four-hour semifinal, the Scotsman's first victory over the 17-time major winner at a Grand Slam event.

Federer, who yelled at Murray and showed rare bursts of anger in the loss, said he expected Djokovic, a two-time defending champion who is on a 20-match winning streak at Melbourne Park, to have the advantage in the final Sunday.

Djokovic already owns three Australian titles and is aiming to be the first man in the Open era to win three in a row.

"Obviously, Novak goes in as the favorite, I would think, even though Andy beat him at the U.S. Open," Federer said. "Novak is the double defending champion here. He's done really well again this tournament. Obviously a tough match again, and give a slight edge to Novak just because of the last couple of days."

Said Murray of the final: "Every time we play each other it's normally a very physical match . . . I hope it's a painful match — that'll mean it's a good one."

Djokovic will not be the only defending champion this weekend playing for another title. Victoria Azarenka was scheduled to play China's Li Na on Saturday night for the women's crown.

Against Murray, Federer showed flashes of his customary genius but also frustration. In the 12th game of the fourth set, Federer appeared to yell a profanity across the net after Murray stopped momentarily behind the baseline during the rally.

Murray shrugged it off and seemed to dig in. He had won that point but lost the game and was taken to another tiebreaker, which he lost.

"We were just checking each other out for bit," Federer said. "That wasn't a big deal for me — I hope not for him."

Murray said, "Stuff like that happens daily in tennis," and added that it was "very, very mild in comparison to what happens in other sports."

When Federer got break point with Murray serving for the match at 6-5, the applause was so prolonged Murray had to wait to serve. And when Federer got the break to force a tiebreaker, the crowd stood and roared as Murray slammed a ball into the court in anger.

The crowd cheered for every Murray error in tiebreaker. One man yelled, "Andy, don't choke."

He didn't.

Rather than wilting under the pressure in the fifth set, Murray hit his stride. He allowed Federer only four points in the first three games of the fifth set, bolting to a 3-0 lead and carrying it through to the end.

"It's big. I never beat Roger in a Slam before. It definitely will help with the confidence," Murray said. "Just knowing you can win against those guys in big matches definitely helps."

Federer could see improvement in Murray's approach in the tough situations.

"With the win at the Olympics and the U.S. Open, maybe there's just a little bit more belief," Federer said. "Or he's a bit more calm overall."

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