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Melbourne Highlights - Day 12

by Alexandra Willis
Friday 27 January 2012

Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic contested one of the longest matches of their respective careers into the early hours of Saturday morning at Melbourne Park, the May-born 24-year-olds battling through their first ever five-set encounter against each other, a 4 hour and 50 minute epic that Djokovic eventually came through 6-3, 3-6, 6-7(4), 6-1, 7-5.

Fighting for the right to face Rafael Nadal in Sunday's final, it was Djokovic who started with greater energy, the pair exchanging breaks midway through the opening set, before Djokovic broke again and served it out after 47 minutes.

But Murray, a far more composed and focused version than the man who lost in three sets to the Serb in last year's Australian Open final, fought back in the second, aggressive play from the baseline undoing Djokovic, as this time he survived having a break, losing it, and breaking again to take the second set by the same margin.

The crucial third set was a barnstormer, one that had the Rod Laver Arena crowd swivelling their heads on every grunt, as Djokovic saved seven break points before Murray finally broke to start. But the Serb fought back, and the set went to a tie-break. Upping the ante, Murray cracked his way through the latter part of the breaker, snatching it 7-4, and taking a two-sets-to-one lead into the fourth.

But after the high of taking the third, there came a low, Djokovic sprinting ahead 4-0 in the fourth as Murray's level dipped, and sending the match into a fifth set for the first time in either player's career against the other.

Djokovic again had the momentum, breaking early, and forcing Murray to serve to stay in the match at 5-2. That the Scot did, and against the run of play, clawed his way back to 5-5. He had three break point chances in that game, only for Djokovic to produce wizardry on every one, holding for 6-5. As the clock approached the five-hour mark, with Murray serving to stay in it again, Djokovic found the pedal, grabbing his first match point to achieve what he described as one of the biggest wins of his life.

The result means that for the first time in Open era history, the same finalists will contest their third consecutive Grand Slam singles final when Djokovic takes on Nadal on Sunday night.

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Just 10 days ago, Vera Zvonareva and Svetlana Kuznetsova made the sign-in deadline for the women's doubles by a fraction, something they thought would be some good extra practice for their respective singles games. A week later, they are the Australian Open doubles champions, after coming through in three tough sets, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 against Italians Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci.

It is a second Grand Slam doubles title for Kuznetsova, also a two-time Grand Slam singles champion, and also a second for Zvonareva. The pair said that after their victory, they would give some thought to playing in the Olympics together at Wimbledon.

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The stage is set for the junior finals, as home favourite and reigning Wimbledon champion Luke Saville takes on Canadian unknown Filip Peliwo in the boys' singles final tomorrow.

In the girls' singles final, Yulia Putintseva, who today knocked out Canadian second seed Eugenie Bouchard, takes on the promising young American Taylor Townsend.

Meanwhile congratulations to Liam Broady and Josh Ward-Hibbert, boys' doubles champions after a 6-3, 6-2 win over Adam Pavlasek and Filip Veger.

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For all the reports and results from Melbourne Park, visit the Official Australian Open website


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