MELBOURNE, Australia — Andy Murray survived in a deciding fifth set to defeat Roger Federer, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 6-2, on Friday to reach the finals of the Australian Open.
The breakthrough victory sends the No. 3 into a third Melbourne final and gives him his first win at a Grand Slam over Federer after three losses at the majors to the Swiss.
One of those was the 2010 Melbourne final.
Murray’s fighting win with 21 aces took exactly four hours and puts him in the Sunday final with top seed Novak Djokovic.
The Serb, who booked his place on Thursday, will have had his feet up watching his rivals run themselves ragged on television from the comfort of his hotel suite.
The man trying to set a modern record of winning three straight titles in Melbourne will enter the Sunday final with a day’s more rest than Murray.
Federer said he was disappointed but optimistic for the rest of his season after his first tournament.
“I was hoping to do a bit better, but overall obviously I’m pretty pleased with the tournament. I played good tennis. I’m moving well and was fit in the 10 sets I played, the last two matches.
“It’s disappointing going out in five. You know, it’s not the first time it’s happened here.”
Federer missed a chance at a 25th Grand Slam final as he faded in the fifth set after derailing Murray as the Scot served for the match at 6-5 in the fourth set.
Murray seized the initiative in the fifth, breaking for 2-0 and eventually running out the winner when the serving Federer put a forehand long.
“Obviously I was happy, it was a tough match,” said Murray. “A lot of ups and downs. So it was good to come back after the way I lost the fourth set.
“It’s always tough against Roger,” said Murray, now 11-9 in their series. “He plays his best at Slams.
“My back was to the wall at 6-5 in the fourth when I served for it. I had to keep on fighting. He missed a few points in the fifth and I got stuck in to my game.
“I thought I did a good job tonight, I did all the things I needed to do, did them well. Even after the second and fourth sets, which were tough to lose. I was just happy with the way I responded after both those sets.”
Murray is trying to set a record by becoming the first man to lift a second consecutive Grand Slam immediately after claiming his first, which he obtained at Flushing Meadows over Djokovic in the autumn.
“New York obviously helped my confidence,” said Murray. “I’ve been known in the past for losing tough big matches a few times.
“Roger is always a danger, he’s come back so often in the Slams.”
Murray will be playing his sixth Grand Slam final and his third at Melbourne Park after losing to Federer in 2010 and to Djokovic a year later.
He is the first Briton to reach multiple Melbourne finals after Fred Perry in 1934 and 1945.
Also on Friday, top seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci of Italy beat local hopes Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 in the women’s doubles final for the first 2013 Australian Open trophy.