January 29, 2011 in Sports

Murray faces Djokovic, hex

Brits in 0-for-270 Grand Slam slump
 

MELBOURNE, Australia – Andy Murray doesn’t have to worry about Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal this time. He is hardly in the clear, however, as he goes for his first major title.

Murray won his Australian Open semifinal, defeating David Ferrer 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-1, 7-6 (2). Next in line is 2008 champion and longtime friend Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final.

There is also, of course, that long, long British drought. Fred Perry was the last British man to win one of the four majors – way back in 1936. More than 270 Grand Slam tournaments have been contested in almost 75 years since.

“First of all, it’s more like a personal dream or a personal goal of mine,” Murray said. “The historical thing, it’s not something that I’ve thought about that much, but it’s something that obviously for me personally I want to try and win. But I also don’t want to get myself so amped up that I play a stinker of a match.”

On the women’s side, there will be a first-time Australian Open winner. Kim Clijsters goes for her fourth Grand Slam title today, but first outside the United States. She plays China’s Li Na, who can become the first Asian to win a Grand Slam tournament.

Li already has broken new ground as the first Chinese to reach a Grand Slam singles final. Now she is hoping to go one better after eliminating top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki in the semifinals.

The top-ranked women’s team of Gisela Dulko of Argentina and Flavia Pennetta of Italy rallied from a set and 4-1 down to win the doubles final over Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and Maria Kirilenko of Russia 2-6, 7-5, 6-1.

In beating the seventh-seeded Ferrer, Murray was facing his first top-10 opponent this year at Melbourne Park. Ferrer beat a hobbled Nadal in straight sets in the quarters.

“If you go in thinking, ‘Yeah, no one’s won for 60 years, I might never get another chance …,’ ” Murray said. “I’m going to make the most of the opportunity, for sure. But I also need to make sure I’m relaxed and calm on the court. I don’t want to get myself … too worked up.”

Murray has twice been in this position, losing both the 2009 U.S. Open final and last year’s Australian Open in straight sets to Federer. Djokovic dropped Federer 7-6 (3), 7-5, 6-4 in the semis in Melbourne this week.


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