Andy Murray said last night that beating Roger Federer in Sunday's Australian Open final would be "the best way ever" to win his first Grand Slam title. Federer meets Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in today's second semi-final and, although Murray admitted the world No 1 would probably be the tougher opponent, he would relish the prospect of taking him on.
"If you beat him in a Slam final it's an unbelievable achievement so I would obviously love to win against him," Murray said after his semi-final victory over Marin Cilic. "If I'm going to play against him, it will take a special performance to win, but I feel like I can do that.
"Tsonga is one of the most exciting guys to watch because of his athleticism and the way that he plays. He's obviously had great results here in the past. Both would be very tough. Federer obviously has more experience than Tsonga. If it's against Federer, I think he would be expected to win. If it was against Tsonga, I would probably be the slight favourite."
He added: "I think this is the best I've played at a Slam. Obviously the match against Rafa [Nadal] was great. Tonight the majority of the match was great as well. I feel good."
Murray agreed that the occasion had got to him in his previous Grand Slam final, when he lost to Federer at the 2008 US Open, but thought he would cope better now. "I was obviously nervous, as everyone is going to be, but it's tough. I'd had a tough run through to the final and it just all came around so quickly I didn't have that much time to prepare myself."
Blatantly unfair scheduling gave Federer an advantage in New York two years ago. The Swiss had a day of rest before the final, whereas Murray had to play within 24 hours of his semi-final. This time it will be Murray, with 72 hours to prepare, who will have the advantage.
Asked whether he might he have too much time to think about the final, Murray replied: "I'd rather be in this position than what happened at the US Open. I played three days in a row. In a Slam, that almost never happens to anyone."
Did Britain's long wait for a Grand Slam men's singles champion give him any extra motivation? "I'd obviously love to do it, but that's not the only reason I want to win a Slam. I want to win it for the people I work with, for my parents who obviously helped me when I was growing up."
Murray, who will climb back to No 2 in the world rankings if he wins, said the remarkable point he played to break serve in the fifth game of the second set against Cilic had made "a huge difference" to the match.
"I don't want to say the match was slipping away from me, but the momentum was definitely with him. I'd had a few chances early in the first set and didn't take them. He started playing great. He was taking it to me, but that really changed it. I felt a lot more comfortable, more confident. I started going for my shots."
Cilic said Murray deserved to win. "He came up with some great shots, especially when he broke me in the second set for 3-2. He's really at the top of the game in terms of his physical ability."
Alex Corretja, the former world No 2 who is part of Murray's coaching team, watched on television in Barcelona. "Andy has been able to find a very good balance between defence and attack," Corretja said. "That was the most important thing today."Reuse content