Roger Federer has shrugged off the suggestion Andy Murray’s trouble-free route to the Australian Open semi-finals gives the Scot a slight edge in what promises to be a close-fought encounter this morning.
Murray has spent just under nine hours on court in winning five matches – almost two hours less than the Swiss, who was also embroiled in a five-set quarter-final tussle with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Federer came through 7-6 (7/4) 4-6 7-6 (7/4) 3-6 6-3 and, while the 17-time major winner would happily have avoided spending so long on Rod Laver Arena, he insists playing longer matches can also have its advantages.
“I would rather be in his shoes,” said Federer, “that’s exactly how you want to approach a semi-final, in my opinion.
“But there’s also some positives to take out of a five-set match. I toughed it out and that gives you confidence when you have to go through those moments.
“The physical stamina was there, the focus was there till the very end. So it does give you a lot of confidence moving forward from here.”
Murray has won 10 of their 19 meetings but has never beaten the 31-year-old in a grand slam.
Indeed, on their last two meetings at a major – the 2010 final here and the Wimbledon final last year – Murray has been reduced to tears by Federer’s brilliance.
Murray did enjoy two notable wins in 2012, though, beating Federer to Olympic gold in London and then edging him out in the Shanghai Masters semi-final.
The world No 2 promptly took revenge in the last four of the World Tour Finals in November as their personal rivalry increased in intensity.
Murray is trying to make history as the first man in the Open era to back up his first grand slam title triumph by winning the next major as well.
He reiterated how his US Open success last year has altered his mindset heading into the latter stages in Melbourne.
“I probably feel a little bit calmer than usual,” said Murray, who has yet to drop a set. “But I still have an understanding of how difficult it is to win these events. With the players that are still left in the tournament, it’s going to be a very tough few days if I want to do that.
“I’ll just stay focused, work hard in practice and hope I can finish the tournament well.”
Novak Djokovic lies in wait for the winner after crushing David Ferrer with what he described as “one of the best performances of my career”.
The Serbian was in irresistible form as he swept aside the fourth-seeded Spaniard 6-2 6-2 6-1.
He goes into Sunday’s final knowing a win would see him make history as the first man in the Open era to win three Melbourne titles in succession.
On this evidence, few would back against him.
“It can only do positive things for my confidence,” said the world No 1 following his 89-minute master class.