By Greg Stutchbury
Andy Murray overcame a blistering start from Tomas Berdych to advance to his fourth Australian Open final with a 6-7(6) 6-0 6-3 7-5 victory on Thursday.
Murray will meet either top seed Novak Djokovic or defending champion Stan Wawrinka, who play their semi-final on Friday, for the title.
It is Murray’s first grand slam final since he beat Djokovic at Wimbledon in 2013, and eighth of his career.
“I was obviously disappointed to lose the first set,” Murray said in a courtside interview. “But I started to feel better and stick to my game and I was more aggressive in the second set.
“I was trying to get him running more, which was important because I needed to change the momentum.”
The 29-year-old Berdych had ended a 17-match losing streak against third seed Rafa Nadal in the quarter-finals and looked in a hurry against Murray to reach his second grand slam final.
Berdych, who is now coached by Dani Vellverdu – a former member of Murray’s coaching team – started at a blistering pace that had the Scot hanging on by his fingernails as he scrambled all around court to save his own serve.
The Czech conceded just two points on his first four service games before Murray clawed his way back with Berdych serving for the set at 5-3 and then forced it into a tiebreak, which the seventh seed surprisingly won after saving a set point when Murray hit a forehand into the net.
A fired up Murray, apparently annoyed at something Berdych said to him during the changeover, raced through the second set in 30 minutes, the first time the Czech had lost a set this year at Melbourne Park.
Murray then broke in the sixth game of the third when Berdych lost a 40-0 lead after serving consecutive double faults, an advantage he consolidated and then seized control of the match as the Czech began to look fatigued.
Berdych rallied in the fourth and held two break points in the sixth game, the first opportunities he had to break since the first set, only for Murray to hold and like one of the boxers the Scot admires, he puffed his chest out in defiance.
Murray then broke Berdych in the 11th game and served out to love to earn his place in the final, punching the air several times in delight.