Tramlines

Maturity the key to Murray semi-final triumph

Andy Murray and Enrique Molina

Andy Murray's victory over Roger Federer was a masterclass. Not because it showcased the best of what the Scot has to offer in terms of his tennis and fitness - both of which are impeccable, of course. But it demonstrated something even more important:  that Murray now has total mastery of himself. It was a controlled display of increased maturity from the world number three such as Tramlines has never quite seen before.

There were signs of that change in Murray towards the end of last year when he won the US Open, but what has been particularly impressive about his run to the final in Melbourne has been how calmly he has gone about it.

Gone are the days of the tantrums that punctuated Murray's early career. Gone are the days when negative body language almost added a second opponent to Murray's matches, on top of the man on the other side of the net.

Instead, Murray, under the guidance of Ivan Lendl, has approached his matches in a methodical manner and refused to get too negative when things aren't going his way. And more than that, as soon as he began slipping in that direction he was able to channel his aggression straight back into his tennis.

The Scot had not really been tested heading into the match with Federer, although he wasn't always at his best in advancing to the last four.

But the best example of Murray's new found maturity came deep in the fourth set. Having led by a set, before being pegged back by a tight tie-break, and then by two sets to one and a break, Murray had just been broken back when he deemed two controversial hawkeye calls to have gone against him in quick succession.

On both of the points, Murray quickly remonstrated with umpire Enrique Molina, and from his expression and body language it was clear that his fury was bubbling to the surface.

But then a strange thing happened. Where once he would have lost his temper and sulked his way to losing the next three games, Murray pulled himself together and recovered his demeanour. Then, he simply made his opinion known to Molina before returning to the job in hand when he realised that the decision was not going to be overturned.

Not only did he return to the game quickly, he also used his frustration in an incredible manner: the forehand he produced on the very next point was despatched with such venom that there can be no doubt that he had simply imagined the ball to be Molina's head.  It was an unstoppable winner that turned the game around and allowed him to hold and keep things on level terms.

Further proof of that maturity came later in the set when, having used all his challenges Murray simply laughed off a forehand "winner" from Federer that looked perilously close to being out and helped the world number two to hold and lead 5-4 in the fourth - a set he went on to win on another tie-break.

The 25-year-old also shrugged off his two poor tie-breaks that allowed Federer back into the match, and went on to win with a supremely comfortable fifth set that encouraged his fans just as much as it disappointed the Melbourne crowd who'd been hoping for a great finale.

As much as Murray's superior fitness played a part in his victory over Federer, that is not an advantage he will have over the equally strong Novak Djokovic in the final.

Instead it was his attitude that particularly impressed, something he will need to repeat if he wants to outlast the Serb on Sunday and rack up his second Grand Slam title immediately after his first.

SIGHT OF THE DAY

It has long been regarded as an indisputable fact that the great Federer does not perspire while playing tennis. At all.

But the unflappable Swiss took it one step too far as he sported a fetching, but surely wildly inappropriate, skintight thermal undershirt to keep him warm.

This was, after all, nothing more vigorous than an amble around Rod Laver in a run-of-the-mill Grand Slam semi-final. He might as well have sported his famous blazer and bright white flared strides.

He may have been defeated in the fifth set, but at least Federer was not overly chilly as he shook Murray’s sweaty palm after four hours of keeping warm.

Roger Federer

SHOT OF THE DAY

INFOGRAPHIC OF THE DAY

As if all that wasn't enough to whet your appetite for Sunday's final here's our bite-sized comparison of all the pertinent statistics heading into Murray and Djokovic's 18th meeting.

Andy Murray & Novak Djokovic infographic