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Andy Murray becomes first Briton to reach Australian Open final in 33 years


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Andy Murray becomes first Briton to reach Australian Open final in 33 years



By Nicola Boden

Last updated at 4:50 PM on 28th January 2010





He has said he plays better when in a relationship, but Andy Murray might have to revise that after storming to the Australian Open final today.

While his love-life has taken a wrong turn, the British No.1's game is probably at an all-time high after sweeping aside Marin Cilic this morning.

The 22-year-old tennis star powered through to the last two in four sets in Melbourne, lining up just the second Grand Slam final of his career.

Murray, who split from his long-term girlfriend Kim Sears less than a month before Christmas, had to settle with being cheered on by mother Judy.


article-1246750-080F4E6C000005DC-896_468x385.jpg On the glory trail: Andy Murray after beating Marin Cilic at the Australian Open


article-1246750-080F33EE000005DC-312_468x367.jpg Mother's pride: Judy Murray cheered her son's every point in the players' box

Kim, 21, was the British No.1's rock on and off court during their relationship, which dated back to 2005 after they first met at the U.S. Open.

She was an almost constant face in the crowd during practically every major tournament and he said he felt more relaxed when she was watching.

article-1246750-06166D7C0000044D-196_233x343.jpg Split: Murray's ex-girlfriend Kim Sears had previously been chief cheerleader



'I work better in a relationship. At the end of a day, especially if I've lost a match, I don't like talking about tennis, so it's nice to have someone to talk to about other stuff,' the player said before Wimbledon last year.


But their relationship broke down and in November, Kim left Murray's £5million Surrey mansion - restoring his mother to the role of main cheerleader.


She was in the players' box today in Australia, zealously punching the air as her son climbed back from losing the first set to beat Cilic, 3-6 6-4 6-4 6-2.

He was furious with himself for dropping the set - his first in the tournament - but turned the match around after a lucky net cord in the fifth game of the second set.

He managed to run down the ball and get it back before returning a lob from Cilic with a sensational passing forehand - which prompted him to roar with delight.


Later, the World No4 joked: 'I didn't know my mouth was that big.'

The momentum never shifted again as he upped the tempo to hammer the 6ft6in Croatian, who has played three five-set matches in the past 10 days.

Murray said after the game: 'I actually practise that shot quite a lot in training. It was a great shot, I managed to turn it around from there. I started going for my shots a bit more.'


article-1246750-080F5199000005DC-277_468x326.jpg Imposter: A man in a Croatian football shirt made it onto court after the match



Home fans: Some Scots were also in Melbourne to cheer on Murray

Paying tribute to Cilic, he added: 'He showed incredible guts. He's played three five-set matches but he made it so tough for me and fought right until the end.'


Murray is the first British man to reach the Australian Open final in 33 years, since John Lloyd in 1977.

That match made Lloyd the first British man to reach a Grand Slam singles final in the Open era. Inauspiciously, he lost in five sets to Vitas Gerulaitis of the U.S.

Murray, who was seeded fifth and saw off Rafael Nadal in the quarters, will now play either Roger Federer or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final on Sunday night.

Federer may still be World No1 but he does not have the invincible aura he once did and with Murray arguably in the form of his life, he is feeling confident.

'I would expect Roger to come through and he's so good in slam finals but if I go out there and play my best I think I've got a chance of winning and it's really exciting,' he said today.


The second semi-final will not be decided until tomorrow.







Rollercoaster: Murray was frustrated early on but was reinvigorated by a single (right) and changed the direction of the match




article-1246750-080F3018000005DC-766_468x357.jpg Good sport: Cilic and Murray shake hands after the four-set battle


Meanwhile, to his advantage, or possibly detriment, Murray now has two full days to fill before the last hurdle between him and a coveted first Grand Slam title.

The Scot has only ever reached one other slam final - the U.S. Open in September 2008, which he lost to Federer after playing three consecutive days beforehand.


If he wins, he will become the first British man to win a Grand Slam singles title since Fred Perry in 1936.

Murray revealed he hopes boxer Ricky Hatton will be back to support him on Sunday.

Hatton, who is on holiday in Australia, watched Murray outplay Nadal on Tuesday before the Spaniard was forced to retire.


He had been planning to watch today's match too but had to stay away because his fiancee is ill.


The boxer is due to leave Melbourne on Sunday before the final but Murray said he would find a spot for him if he changed his schedule.


article-1246750-08054725000005DC-684_468x286.jpg Celebrity fans: Ricky Hatton and his fiancee Jennifer Dooley watching Murray's quarter-final against Rafael Nadal earlier this week



article-1246750-080F76AA000005DC-738_468x286.jpg In action: Murray (left) and Cilic do battle in the Rod Laver stadium


Back in his hometown of Dunblane, his grandparents Roy and Shirley Erskine had been on tenterhooks watching at home.

'We are really pleased. It was quite exciting. I've seen him play better but, with the fact that it was a semi-final and a Grand Slam, he did very well,' Mr Erskine said.

'We don't allow anyone else in the house when we're watching a match like that, because it is a very personal thing.'

The Dunblane Hotel has obtained a special licence for Sunday so that it can open in time for the final, which starts at 8am British time.

Both Gordon Brown and Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond congratulated him today.


'He is in the final, probably against Federer, and I hope he wins this major tournament. It would be great news. He is a great tennis player and a great guy,' Mr Brown said.

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