Live Commentary: Australian Open Semi-final: Andy Murray vs. Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic
© PA Photos
Sports Mole's live coverage of the Australian Open semi-final between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic.

Good morning and welcome to Sports Mole's live coverage of the Australian Open semi-final between Britain's Andy Murray and world number one Novak Djokovic.

The battle of the 24-year-olds is a repeat of last year's final, which Djokovic wrapped up in three straight sets to prevent a first grand slam win for Murray and begin his most memorable year to-date.

Murray's route to the final has been scare-free. The Scot has dropped just one set in his five games thus far while Djokovic brings a similar record to the semi, also losing just the solitary set to Lletyon Hewitt in round four.

The Serb has won six of their ten meetings on tour but Murray will look to build on his improved recent performances against the two-time Melbourne champion, which have seen him triumph in four of the last six encounters.

The victor will take on Rafael Nadal in Sunday morning's final after the Spaniard overcame Roger Federer in four sets yesterday.

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The duo were on court for 288 minutes and the Rod Laver crowd will have experienced few better encounters. Rafael Nadal will feel happy at the gruelling workout Djokovic has had to go through but if there is one man who can perform at the same level again, it's the Serb. Final points tally: Murray 161-184 Djokovic.

Thanks for joining Sports Mole for commentary on this memorable game.

GAME, SET AND MATCH! Murray 3-6 6-3 7-6[4] 1-6 5-7 Djokovic

At 15-15 another Murray shot looks so, so close but is called out. Djokovic has two match points after Murray sends a backhand into the net. And that's it. Djokovic approaches the net and finishes it off, collapsing on the floor before embracing Murray. What a match. The Scot will have to wait a little longer for another chance at a grand slam. FINAL SCORE: Murray 3-6 6-3 7-6[4] 1-6 5-7 Djokovic.

Murray 3-6 6-3 7-6[4] 1-6 5-6 Djokovic

Djokovic's first attempt at a winner goes wide before an audacious lob from Murray is called out. The Scot has no challenges left but no Hawk-Eye replay is shown. The next point is a barrage from Murray and his forehand down the line is unstoppable. 15-30. Djokovic's next backhand is weak and Murray and has two break points. The first is wasted after the return finds the net but the next point is stunning. Murray hammers backhands at Djokovic but the world number one shows monumental reserve to fight back to deuce. Brilliant. Another break point is presented to Murray after a loose forehand from the Serb but again it is wasted and now Nole has the chance to go 6-5 ahead. His backhand this time goes wide. This is huge for both men. Djokovic finds the determination to close out the game. One game away again. Remember, no tie-breaks in the final set of grand slams.

Murray 3-6 6-3 7-6[4] 1-6 5-5 Djokovic

Something disturbs the crowd after Murray's first serve and tensions rise. Djokovic's backhand manages to find the back of the line and Murray has no challenges left to query the call. The Scot responds with a deep backhand down the line that Nole can do little about. Murray makes it 40-15 thanks to two, important first serves and levels the set thanks to a booming forehand. The crowd are on their feet, immense from the Dunblane lad.

BREAK! Murray 3-6 6-3 7-6[4] 1-6 4-5 Djokovic

The game begins well for Murray, who grinds out the opening point before Djokovic sends a simple backhand into the net. 0-30. BIG FOREHAND from Murray sets up three break points. And he takes it! Passing Djokovic with ease at the net. He must now hold serve to draw level.

Murray 3-6 6-3 7-6[4] 1-6 3-5 Djokovic

Murray now has to win three games in a row to prevent another defeat to one of the 'big three' in grand slams. He begins strongly, going ahead 30-0 before Djokovic dances around a deep ball to the backhand side and slaps a forehand cross-court. Murray responds with a first serve but is punished for a weak second serve on the next as Djokovic takes it to deuce. The Scot holds out and prolongs what, at the moment, feels like the inevitable. The crowd in Rod Laver cheer the hold in an attempt to gee Murray up.

Murray 3-6 6-3 7-6[4] 1-6 2-5 Djokovic

Djokovic edges closer to another grand slam final after Murray puts a couple of groundstrokes long before timidly slicing into the net when 40-0 down. The world number one is one game away from another Melbourne final.

BREAK! Murray 3-6 6-3 7-6[4] 1-6 2-4 Djokovic

New balls for Murray and he starts well enough with Djokovic dragging a backhand into the middle of the net. The Serb pegs it back to 30-15 with a return winner before Murray lazily and incorrectly challenges. A groan of despair from the Scot is heard after Djokovic sets up another break point in which his forehand pass goes just wide following an amazing reach off the Murray serve. The Scot puts an easy backhand just long to present another chance which this time Djokovic takes thanks to another amazing stretch kept him in the rally. The Serb turns to face his box and lets out a roar of satisfaction. He makes the crucial break.

Murray 3-6 6-3 7-6[4] 1-6 2-3 Djokovic

No such problems on the world number one's serve, taking it to-love after battering a backhand down the line with little apparent effort. Murray must come out and impose on serve.

Murray 3-6 6-3 7-6[4] 1-6 2-2 Djokovic

Murray goes ahead as the Serb wastes another challenge - he has already used two in this set and only has one left for the rest (Murray still has all three). He then uses one up in an attempt to call a Djokovic volley long which clearly hit the line. A wild forehand from Murray makes it 30-30. Tense times for the Scot and he loses the authority of the rally early on before looping long. Break point Djokovic. ACE down the middle from Murray and we're at deuce. Murray's second serve goes long and it's another chance for Nole but this time it's the usually unrattled Serb who misses a comfortable forehand. He again makes an error on the same wing to hand Murray the chance of closing out but Djokovic is brutal in dismissing the opportunity. Deuce #3 and Djokovic unloads off Murray's second serve but again can't convert. This really feels like a must-win for the Scot now and he finds another decent first serve to go up advantage. He makes it count this time and we're two sets and two games all.

Murray 3-6 6-3 7-6[4] 1-6 1-2 Djokovic

Djokovic goes into double figures on the ace count to go ahead in game three of the fifth before some excellent, persistent depth on Murray's part earns him a sight of a break at 30-30. Djokovic is unfazed and produces a wide service that Murray can only get a frame to before the Scot's forehand goes long on the next.

Murray 3-6 6-3 7-6[4] 1-6 1-1 Djokovic

"Come on!" yells Murray after a pair of first serves put him 30-15 ahead, he must rediscover his form from the second and third and not let that slack fourth set get the better of him. Djokovic sends a weak forehand into the net before a welcome ace from the Scot levels the set.

Murray 3-6 6-3 7-6[4] 1-6 0-1 Djokovic

An impressive start to the decider from the world number one who advances to 11 consecutive points in making it 40-0 before double faulting to end the run of points. He delivers an in-to-out forehand winner to take an early lead.

Set 4: Djokovic showed some true grit in that set and the pair sit and take some deep breaths in anticipation of the fifth. Murray replaces his red top with a fresh white one. Total points won: Murray 124-141 Djokovic.

SET! Murray 3-6 6-3 7-6[4] 1-6 Djokovic

We're heading for a fifth set here. Djokovic fires two return winners to create three set points and again bullets a backhand down the line off the Murray serve to take the set 6-1.

Murray 3-6 6-3 7-6[4] 1-5 Djokovic

A smattering of applause greets a volley on the jump from Murray as he goes ahead in the game, the Melbourne crowd are saving themselves for the surely inevitable fifth. Djokovic answers with a deft drop shot before firing wide to give Murray a glimpse of a possible break. The Serb's next backhand also goes wide and Murray has two points to reduce the deficit. He fails on both after finding the net with lacklustre backhands before Djokovic sets up game point with an unreturnable, converting with a forehand winner on the stretch.

Murray 3-6 6-3 7-6[4] 1-4 Djokovic

Murray's on the board in the fourth after some improved first serves. Djokovic settles into his chair and will look to put himself within a game of the set when they return to the baseline.

Murray 3-6 6-3 7-6[4] 0-4 Djokovic

Two aces in a row put Djokovic 40-0 up and Murray timidly puts his next return into the net. A fifth set decider looks on the cards here. Will Murray try and comeback in this set or conserve energy for the decider?

DOUBLE BREAK! Murray 3-6 6-3 7-6[4] 0-3 Djokovic

Murray will have hoped to come out and resume his brilliance from the third but he is a different player. Djokovic has controlled almost every point while the Scot continues to blast the odd shot wide or long. The Serb secures the first double break of the match after doing very little on the world number four's serve.

Murray 3-6 6-3 7-6[4] 0-2 Djokovic

An easy hold for the world number one as it is now Murray who seems to be in a huff, wandering aimlessly around the court after a lax display.

BREAK! Murray 3-6 6-3 7-6[4] 0-1 Djokovic

This time it's Djokovic who goes 0-30 up and at 15-30 Murray shows naivety. Djokovic sends a high lob near the net only for Murray to, far too casually, push the drive volley long. Two break points for the Serb who converts on the second after Murray hits his 62nd unforced error.

Set 4: What a set from the two 24-year-olds. The pair have been trading blows for almost 200 minutes now. Murray has made 37 winners and he is at 60% first serves in and first serves won. Total points won: Murray 110-113 Djokovic.

SET! Murray 3-6 6-3 7-6[4] Djokovic

Djokovic unloads on the forehand and saves the first but can do nothing about Murray's wide serve on the next. 88 minutes that set took, whole matches have been shorter at the tournament. Epic.

Third set tie-break: 6-3 Murray

Ace number eight from the Scot restores a lead before Nole's slice on the reach drifts long. Murray has a two-point advantage and is brilliant on the forehand side to set up three set points!.

Third set tie-break: 3-3

Djokovic double faults on the fourth before Murray sluggishly sends long after an epic rally. It's tit-for-tat and Djokovic digs the deepest to level at three points apiece as the players have a quick sip of fluid and change ends.

Third set tie-break: 2-1 Murray

Murray edges ahead after the opening exchanges thanks to an excellent opening point and strong serve on the third.

BREAK! Murray 3-6 6-3 6-6 Djokovic

Murray looks to break away but Djokovic lobs to the baseline before reeling off the next two points to create two break-back points. On the first he pulls the forehand return long but does crucially break through in the next after Murray pulls a backhand. Tie-break time.

BREAK! Murray 3-6 6-3 6-5 Djokovic

Murray opens with a deep return that Djokovic can do little about and, at 15-30, both players go toe-to-toe before Murray lashes a forehand cross court. Two break points for the Scot. He again connects well off the return but pulls the backhand follow up into the net. 30-40. Djokovic should come in after blasting Murray around the court but somehow the Scot turns it around with a cross-court backhand and he will serve for the set.

Murray 3-6 6-3 5-5 Djokovic

Djokovic looks to turn the screw with a run-around forehand down-the-line but Murray retaliates with two unreturnables before the Serb mimics his opening shot of the rally. 30-30. Murray is presented with an easy forehand but sends it long and all of a sudden it's set point Djokovic. ACE! What a time from Murray as he fires his favourite serve out-wide. It's another set point for Nole after a lazy attempt at a pass from Murray and this time Murray's audacious forehand manages to find the line. Djokovic can't believe it. Murray approaches on the next but his backhand smash goes into the net, set point number three. Unbelievable from Murray who again shows mental toughness when set point down to play a drop shot! He has the chance to level the set and both men hit the top of the net before Djokovic hits wide. Big, big game that.

Murray 3-6 6-3 4-5 Djokovic

"Aaaaaaaaah" screams the crowd after Murray's third attempt at a pass in the opening rally clips the net and goes past Djokovic's white racket. The Scot should make it 15-30 but pushes an easy backhand long before attempting a forehand up the line that also just misses the white marking. His world-class return game is evident as he sends back two Djokovic serves with intent to level at deuce. Murray goes for the backhand winner but fails and the world number one aces to wrap up the game.

Murray 3-6 6-3 4-4 Djokovic

This time it's Djokovic who applies the early pressure, going up 0-30. Murray wins the next and Djokovic gifts the Scot a framed return to level it up at 30-30. A bend of the knees and a whip of the hands sees Murray's backhand elude the Serb on the next and he comes out on top in the final point to level the set once more.

Murray 3-6 6-3 3-4 Djokovic

Guess what? No, I'm only joking. For once, Djokovic wins the first point on serve with an ace and doesn't he know it, pointing sarcastically to the heavens. Murray responds with a scintillating forehand up-the-line before a second ace of the game makes it 40-30 and Murray pulls his backhand return into the net. Crucial part of the set coming up now.

Murray 3-6 6-3 3-3 Djokovic

Djokovic continues his explicit show of emotion after a backhand return winner but Murray is too good in the next with a delicate drop volley to make it 30-15 before another return winner from the Murray second serve. Three games all after some solid serving on Murray's part.

Murray 3-6 6-3 2-3 Djokovic

Yep, 0-30 again after a fourth double from the Serb. He almost makes it five but his serve makes it over after connecting with the tape and he pulls it back to 15-30 with a backhand winner. A yelp of derision from Murray follows a long backhand and we're back at 30-30. The Scot is making all the running here and is almost nonchalant in bringing it back to deuce. Break point again as Nole wheezes and wipes the sweat from his brow. Murray misses after peppering the Serb's backhand and he squats over stretching before showing a first sign of emotion with a "Come on!" after setting up game point which he takes. Djokovic now beats his chest and clearly wants to show he's still the best.

BREAK! Murray 3-6 6-3 2-2 Djokovic

It's very rare that you say Andy Murray's body language and demeanour are better than his opponent's but Djokovic really needs to show some mettle here and does with a arrowing forehand return. He returns to slumping over after the next point but Murray is lax this time and suddenly it's two break-back points. "Game Djokovic" after a peculiar game where both men seemed distant. Back on serve.

BREAK! Murray 3-6 6-3 2-1 Djokovic

I think I might start every piece of text when Djokovic is serving with 'it's 0-30 Murray,' which is again the case here. Can he make it 0-40 this time?! Yes he can is the answer after Djokovic hits long with a forehand. 74 points each in the match overall now but Murray can't convert with his first chance, still two more. The second goes after a good serve from the Serb, one left. Murray's return clips the tape but he is bold in the rally and comes out on top to secure the first break of the third.

Murray 3-6 6-3 1-1 Djokovic

15-15 after convincing winners from both men and has Djokovic now moved past that mental lapse that seemed so prominent just a moment ago. He goes 15-30 up but Murray responds with a backhand winner and follows it up with the same on the forehand on two occasions to level the set at one game apiece.

Murray 3-6 6-3 0-1 Djokovic

I hate to repeat myself but it's 0-30 Murray again! He should make it 0-40 but allows Djokovic back in the rally after the Serb seemed to have given up. It's deja vu as Djokovic levels at 30-30 but he lazily hits wide to present the Scot with an early break point in the third. Murray's backhand looks out but is called in, Djokovic successfully challenges to take the game to deuce and a visibly labouring Djokovic presents another break point after a tired forehand but makes up for it with a bullet on the next. Murray has a third chance but again can't break the world number one down. More deep breaths from Djokovic and it's break point number four as the game approaches 11 minutes. The Scot's return, as shown by Hawk-Eye, is a whisker out but again he has the chance after a volley sails wide from the Serb. Once again it is saved and we're at Deuce #5 but this time Djokovic manages to hold on and taken an epic 14-minute game.

Set 2: Much improved from the world number four in the second, he has now hit 18 winners to Djokovic's 10 but still leads the unforced errors count 39-30. Will the Serb liven up at the start of the third? He looked broken at the end of that set. Total points won: Murray 60-63 Djokovic.

SET! Murray 3-6 6-3 Djokovic

Could all of Murray's hard work be undone by the same slack errors of the opening hour? Djokovic has two chances to break back after some idle work on the backhand side. The first is saved with a rocket 213-km/h ace down the middle before the Scot summons some extra grit to take the game to deuce. Djokovic sends a desperate forehand long and keels over for several seconds before Murray serves out to take the set 6-3.

BREAK! Murray 3-6 5-3 Djokovic

The Scot has definitely found his groove in the mid-stages of this set and he opens game eight with a delicious low forehand. Nole double faults to once again give the Scot a 0-30 lead but yet again he fails to make it 0-40 after a tentative, cagey 41-stroke rally. This is followed by an even better exchange. Murray manages to retain focus and track down every shot amid the the whoops of the crowd and he has two break points. He fails on the first and after being presented with a weak second serve forces the Serb into a mistake. Djokovic looks a beaten man here, perhaps slightly injured. A very sluggish game from the world number one.

BREAK! Murray 3-6 4-3 Djokovic

Ace number three for Murray puts him 30-15 ahead but Djokovic is too good on the following point with blasts from both wings. Massive point at 30-30 and Murray looks in control but his forehand approach drifts wide to present a break-back point to Djokovic. Murray looks to have won it with a volley to the corner but Djokovic lobs only for Murray to somehow win the point as the Serb sends his reply long. A fourth double undoes all the good work of the previous point and this time Djokovic does break on the following point.

BREAK! Murray 3-6 4-2 Djokovic

There is definitely a shift in power here. Murray blasts a forehand cross court and then dips a trademark forehand pass just over the net to again go 0-30 on the Serbian's serve. Djokovic responds with two brutal forehands before an immense rally is won by Murray. It's the longest of the match - 30 strokes - and the Scot has another break point. 'NoDjo' fires long and Murray's ahead in the set.

Murray 3-6 3-2 Djokovic

This is better from the Scot. For the first time Djokovic is off-balance as Murray goes back behind him on the opening point. For the first service game in a little while Murray looks unflustered and after Djokovic sends a return high he slams the smash into the blue court. That's three games in a row.

BREAK! Murray 3-6 2-2 Djokovic

Aggressive. Murray's gameplan has noticeably changed and two smashes are met by roars from the Melbourne crowd - they want to see a game here. Djokovic replies with a forehand that finds the line before again clipping the white stuff with a backhand that for all the world looked like it would sail wide. Murray produces his rally of the match to prevent the Serb closing out the game at the first advantage and then takes a backhand up-the-line early to gain break point. He whinges to the umpire about something (no doubt trivial) after failing to convert but at the second time of asking he forces Nole into a mistake. You wouldn't expect Murray to come out on top in an 11-minute game against Djokovic. Game on.

Murray 3-6 1-2 Djokovic

It's hard to watch a player who you know can play so much better just crumbling on the big stage. Another two mistakes give Djokovic a 0-30 lead but Murray shows he still has some fight with a big serve to level the game. His second ace puts him 40-30 ahead but that is followed by a third double. Djokovic continues to pepper Murray's forehand and he again comes out on top but fails to take advantage of a break point. "Advantage Murray" after a second ace of the game and this time he closes out.

Murray 3-6 0-2 Djokovic

Murray, for once, comes out on top in another gruelling exchange to go 15-30 up but three more unforced errors hand the initiative back to the Melbourne champion.

BREAK! Murray 3-6 0-1 Djokovic

The Murray muttering goes on after another double fault puts Djokovic up 15-30 but a bullet forehand up the line levels the game. Nole tracks down a drop shot after being battered by Murray to earn an early break point and the Scot slumps another backhand into the heart of the net.

Set 1: Djokovic is 70% on first serves in and first serves won while Murray has won just 43% of the points when he gets his opening service in, a stat he will look to remedy in the second. Total points won so far: Murray 23-33 Djokovic.

SET! Murray 3-6 Djokovic

The Serb fails with his first challenge as Murray goes ahead, looking to break back. However, Djokovic takes the pace off a couple of loopy forehands and Murray misfires on both occasions before the Serb approaches to see the out the opening set 6-3.

Murray 3-5 Djokovic

Murray again challenges successfully to go 30-15 up and delivers an unreturnable on the next. Djokovic sends a backhand wide and will now serve for the first set.

Murray 2-5 Djokovic

Murray looks much more comfortable receiving at the moment but can do nothing about the first pass of the game as Djokovic dips a forehand cross court. The Serb's second ace puts him ever closer to the opening set. Murray is starting to mutter to himself, something he's managed to restrain so far in this year's tournament.

BREAK! Murray 2-4 Djokovic

Three unforced errors from the Scot hand Djokovic three more break-back points and he converts the first to restore his advantage. Murray cannot present such easy games on serve.

BREAK! Murray 2-3 Djokovic

Djokovic has by no means been dominating but as is so often when Murray comes up against a top player he fails to play his best on the big points. The Scot fires into the tape of the net on two occasions but now it's Djokovic who double faults to bring the game back to deuce. A lazy drop shot from 'Nole' is slapped away by Murray before Djokovic matches Murray in failing to put away an easy volley on his first foray into the net. The Scot has the chance to break and takes it thanks to a backhand winner to restore parity in the Rod Laver Arena.

BREAK! Murray 1-3 Djokovic

Murray challenges for the first time at 0-15 and successfully too to get on the ace count before coming into net for the first time the following point. His volley is slack though and soon Djokovic has another chance to break serve. Murray double faults to give away the first break.

Murray 1-2 Djokovic

Djokovic opens the third game with what is sure to be the first of many backhand down-the-line winners. At 30-30 Murray carves a slice short and Djokovic frames out to present Murray a break point from which he sends the return into the net. A first ace of the affair gives Djokovic to chance to restore his lead and Murray sends another shot long.

Murray 1-1 Djokovic

Murray opens the game with some strong forehands but can't find a way past Nole's squash-style forehand slice. At 0-30, the Scot proved he can go blow-for-blow with the Champion in the sort of rally expected between these two. Djokovic is presented with two break points but blasts wildly out on both points before Murray sees out a tough opening service game with some ripping backhands.

Murray 0-1 Djokovic

A routine start for the Serb who looks solid on both wings, taking the game to-15. Murray's return game looks switched on though.

Murray 0-0 Djokovic

Djokovic to serve first. Here we go.

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