Emotional Murray reaches Australian Open final, sings female coach’s praises

Andy Murray reached a fourth Australian Open final with his win over Tomas Berdych.

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Andy Murray advanced to his fourth Australian Open final and a chance to win his third Grand Slam title with a 6-7 (6), 6-0, 6-3, 7-5 semifinal win over Tomas Berdych on Thursday.

Murray broke Berdych’s serve in the 11th game of the final set and clinched the match with an ace to advance to Sunday’s final against either Novak Djokovic or defending champion Stan Wawrinka.

Tensions were high before the match because Murray’s former coach, Dani Vallverdu, is now in Berdych’s camp performing the same duties. Murray acknowledged the acrimony on the court, but blamed the media for making a bigger deal of Vallverdu’s move from Murray to Berdych in November.

"You wanted there to be tension," he said after the match.

"A lot was made of Dani, my ex-coach, working with him. I felt was a little unfair and unnecessary. This is sport, there’s more to life than sport. It was a little unfair and created extra tension."

Murray had trained with Vallverdu for five years before parting ways with the Venezuelan to work more closely with new coach Amelie Mauresmo. Soon after, Berdych hired Vallverdu to be his coach.

During the match, there were the usual expletives from Murray, but this time his fiancee, Kim Sears, appeared to mouth several from the player’s box, too.

There were also complaints from Berdych about the balls — the umpire checked them, no problem. And then there was an attempt by Berdych at some mild-mannered trash talking as the players swapped ends after he captured the first set.

2015 AUSTRALIAN OPEN

Berdych muttered something as the two men crossed, causing an annoyed Murray to complain loudly to the umpire, Pascal Maria. When Maria asked Berdych what he said, he responded, "Good play, Tomas. That’s all I said."

Afterward, Murray drew massive applause not just for his tennis, but for an eloquent tribute to female coaches when he was asked by an on-court presenter what his new coach Amelie Mauresmo has brought to his game.

Murray’s decision to hire the former No. 1-ranked Mauresmo in June, after parting ways with Ivan Lendl, sparked criticism from some current and retired players and the British media. Her position was then under scrutiny in Britain after Murray was eliminated from Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in the quarterfinals last year.

"A lot of people criticized me working with her," said Murray, winner of the 2012 U.S. Open and 2013 Wimbledon titles. "And I think so far this week we’ve showed that women can be very good coaches as well."

Mauresmo, a two-time Grand Slam winner, smiled at Murray from his player’s box and nodded, as Rod Laver Arena erupted with applause.

But Murray noted that his wasn’t the only success story.

"Madison Keys, who reached the semis here and had her best tournament, is also coached by a woman, Lindsay Davenport, and I see no reason why that can’t keep moving forward like that in the future," he said to more huge applause.

"I’m very thankful for Amelie for doing it. It was, I would say, a brave choice from her to do it, and hopefully I can repay her now in a few days."

Murray lost Australian Open finals to Roger Federer in 2010 and Djokovic in 2011, both in straight sets, and again to Djokovic in four sets in 2013.