Andy Murray felt tonight he could walk away from the Australian Open with his head held high after narrowly losing out to Novak Djokovic in a thrilling five-set semi-final.
He may have fallen short in his bid to reach a third successive title decider in Melbourne but the manner of his loss to the world number one was in stark contrast to the limp surrender in his final losses to Roger Federer in 2010 and Djokovic last year.
In both those matches, Murray underperformed as if crippled by the weight of expectation.
Tonight may not have been a final but the pressure was just as great and although he again ended up defeated, his performance offered great encouragement that a maiden grand slam crown could yet come his way.
The match, all four hours and 50 minutes of it, was decided by a few points. Having hit back from 5-2 down in the fifth, Murray failed to convert three break points at 5-5. Djokovic then held and broke himself to win 6-3 3-6 6-7 (4/7) 6-1 7-5 and advance to Sunday’s final against Rafael Nadal.
“It was obviously a very good match,” said Murray.
“I had the chance at 5-5, on one of the points I missed a backhand in the net.
“It was tough at the end, you come back then you get close to breaking so to lose is tough. But (I am a) different player, a different attitude to this time last year. I am proud of the way I fought.”