Friday, January 29, 2016

Murray brothers make history in Australian Open

Andy Murray, playing at Indian Wells last year, will try to win his
first Australian Open title in his fifth final in Melbourne. Photo by
Paul Bauman 
   Nine years ago, Andy Murray won the singles title in the SAP Open in San Jose, and his older brother, Jamie, took the doubles crown with Eric Butorac.
   The Murrays will have a tough time repeating that feat in the Australian Open, but they became the first brothers in the Open era to reach the singles and doubles finals in a Grand Slam tournament.
   No. 2 seed Andy Murray of Great Britain outlasted No. 13 Milos Raonic of Canada 4-6, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-2 in 4 hours, 3 minutes today to reach his fifth singles final in Melbourne. Raonic was treated for a groin injury after the third set.
   On Wednesday (PST), No. 7 seeds Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares of Brazil advanced to the doubles final.
   "You're not going to see it very often," Andy Murray said on of the brothers' feat. "We should enjoy it and be proud of it because it's a tough thing to do."
   Not as tough as his next challenge, though. Murray, seeking his third Grand Slam singles title but first in the Australian Open, will face top-ranked Novak Djokovic on Sunday at 12:30 a.m. (ESPN) in a rematch of last year's final won by the Serb 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-0.  
   "Last year here is a good match for me to look at because the tennis, in my opinion, wasn't miles apart," Murray said. "It was a very close match for three sets. The most important thing for me is to sustain my level for long enough, not just for one set here or there, a few games here or there. I need to do it for a very long period if I want to get the win. That's my challenge on Sunday.
   "I have a very good shot on Sunday if I play my best tennis. I don't think many people are expecting me to win on Sunday. I have to just believe in myself, have a solid game plan, and hopefully execute it and play well. There's no reason it's not possible for me to win."
Jamie Murray, shown at last year's U.S. Open,
will attempt to win his first Grand Slam men's
doubles title in his third straight major final.
Photo by Paul Bauman
  Possible, yes. Likely, no.
  The 28-year-old Djokovic, who's one week younger than Murray, is 5-0 in Australian Open finals. By beating Murray, he can match Roy Emerson's record of six Melbourne titles and tie Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg for fifth all-time with 11 major singles crowns.
   Plus, Djokovic is 21-9 against Murray with 10 wins in the last 11 matches. Djokovic is 4-0 against Murray in the Australian Open, including three finals (2011, 2013 and 2015).
   As if all that's not enough, Djokovic has an extra day to rest after his 6-1, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory over four-time Australian Open champion Roger Federer on Thursday.  
   Both Murray and Raonic won their first ATP World Tour titles in San Jose and went undefeated in the tournament, which was discontinued after the 125th edition in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2013.
   Raonic, in fact, never lost a set in San Jose while winning the last three titles. Murray also claimed the championship in 2006 at 18 years old in his only other appearance.
   Jamie Murray, a left-hander who will turn 30 on Feb. 13, and Soares, who will be 34 on Feb. 27, will meet unseeded Daniel Nestor, 43, of Canada and Radek Stepanek, 37, of the Czech Republic after Saturday's women's final between No. 1 seed Serena Williams and No. 7 Angelique Kerber.
   ESPN will televise the women's final at 12:30 a.m., and Tennis Channel will show the men's doubles final at about 2:30 a.m.
   "I find it pretty stressful to watch, so I won't watch the match," Andy Murray said of the men's doubles final.
   Jamie Murray will play in his third straight Grand Slam final but first with Soares. Both seek their initial major title.
   Nestor has won eight Grand Slam men's doubles crowns and Stepanek two. Both have captured the Australian Open once, Nestor in 2002 with Mark Knowles of the Bahamas and Stepanek in 2012 with Leander Paes of India.
   Stepanek swept the SAP Open singles and doubles titles (with Tommy Haas of Germany) in 2009.

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