Andy Murray set for fourth Australian Open final contest against Novak Djokovic

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Andy Murray will be hoping it is fifth time lucky in an Australian Open final for him.

In a sport where losses sometimes come around as frequently as weekends do, perspective is a valuable commodity and lucky for Andy Murray, he’s got plenty of it.

The world No.2 could be forgiven if he gets a case of déjà vu when he takes on Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final on Sunday, having faced and lost to the Serb three times already at the same stage on the same court, including one just 12 months ago.

He also lost his first final in Melbourne, to Roger Federer, back in 2010, and on Sunday, he’s trying to become the first in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam title after losing a quartet of finals there.

The Scot is also bidding to avoid becoming just the second man to lose five finals at one major. The other player to do that was his ex-coach Ivan Lendl at the US Open.

But history and stats are not fazing Murray and while Rod Laver Arena has caused him a lot of heartbreak, he is also one of the most consistent players to perform at Melbourne Park.

“Five finals is a great achievement. You can’t take that away from me,” Murray reminded everyone ahead of Sunday’s final.

“I should be happy about that. There’s very few players that will have made five Australian Open finals, so I have to be proud of that achievement.”

In fact, only three other people have done so in the Open Era – Djokovic, Roger Federer and Stefan Edberg.

“Obviously when you get to the final you’re disappointed if you don’t win. But, I mean, I’ve obviously played very good tennis here. I’ve given myself many opportunities to reach the finals. Seven straight quarter-finals, as well,” the 28-year-old added.

“I have a very good shot on Sunday if I play my best tennis. I need to do it for long enough to have a chance. I’m aware of that. I don’t think many people are expecting me to win on Sunday. I have to just believe in myself, have a solid game plan, and hopefully execute it and play well.

“But, you know, the previous disappointments, it’s one tennis match. Doesn’t matter what’s happened in the past really. It’s about what happens on Sunday.

“People like to read into what’s happened in the past, but Stan (Wawrinka) beat Rafa (Nadal) in the final here. I don’t think he’d ever won against him in like 13 attempts. When he beat Novak here, the same thing, as well. There’s no reason it’s not possible for me to win.”

Since defeating Djokovic in the Wimbledon final in 2013, Murray has lost 10 of his last 11 matches against the Serb. The one victory during that stretch came last August in the Montreal final and Murray’s coach, Amelie Mauresmo, believes it was important to halt the losing streak.

“Maybe it got to him but it didn’t break him so now he comes back even stronger each time believing that he can do it,” Mauresmo said of Murray’s 0-4 record in Australian Open finals.

“He’s been in the last spot a few times and he’s really putting a lot of effort to try and get the trophy on Sunday.”

Djokovic has won his last 20 consecutive Grand Slam matches and his only defeat in the last five majors fell at the hands of Wawrinka in Paris last year.

“He does everything so well, his consistency is incredible. He’s capable of raising the level towards the end of majors with the way he’s been doing it the last few times,” said Mauresmo of Djokovic.

“Obviously right now it’s the biggest task in tennis to beat him in a Grand Slam final. Stan did it last year, you have to be inspired from that as well.”

Murray had one less day to prepare for the final than Djokovic as the British two-time major champion played his semi-final on Friday not Thursday.

For five out of the past eight years, the man who played his semi-final second has been the one to win the final.

Murray doesn’t see it as a huge factor and looked ready in his practice on Rod Laver Arena on Saturday, in which he was joined by Mauresmo and Davis Cup captain Leon Smith. Murray sat for a few minutes to watch his brother Jamie – who was preparing for his doubles final – hit on centre court before he walked off to get some rest ahead of Sunday’s showdown.

Aussie legend Pat Cash, who won Wimbledon in 1987 and is a two-time runner-up in Melbourne, feels people should not discard Murray from the equation.

“They are very evenly matched in many, many areas, there’s nothing in it. One is just a little bit tougher than the other so far. And it’s all mental, it’s as simple as that,” Cash told Sport360.

“I think Andy’s Davis Cup win (with Great Britain in November) – that turns you into a man, it really does. Even though his opponents weren’t that highly ranked, you’re still playing in a big situation and it toughens you up. So that may be the difference.

“I think it’ll be a really good match. People are saying Novak, Novak, Novak, I don’t know, I think it’ll be a really, really good match.”

Murray is bidding to become the fifth reigning Davis Cup champion to win the subsequent Australian Open in the modern era.

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Mirza and Hingis win Aus Open to continue impressive record

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Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza have won 12 titles together in nine months.

Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis captured their third consecutive grand slam doubles title yesterday and extended their winning streak to 36 consecutive matches, leaving their opponents to call their run “insane”.

Mirza and Hingis, who have now won 12 titles together in nine months, beat Czech pair Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka 7-6(1), 6-3 in the final in the Australian Open final yesterday.

The co-world No1s own the longest win streak since 1990, when Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova won 44 matches in a row.

“Our fairytale continues. It’s amazing since winning Wimbledon. After that we only lost two more matches. It keeps going,” said Hingis after the win.

Mirza echoed her partner’s sentiments and says she is wowed by how they’ve been able to sustain such a high level.

“It’s very exciting, it’s what dreams are made of,” Mirza told Sport360. “We’re obviously very happy, but we were kind of surprising ourselves as well with the level that we’re playing. We feel like we’re working hard, we’re trying to keep that level up. To have three slams in a row is really a dream.”

And is she already thinking of four in a row?

“We’re going to try to focus on the 10 other tournaments we have to play before. And when we get there to Paris, sure we would love to win four in a row,” said the Indian star.

Hlavackova paid tribute to Hingis and Mirza, who have nicknamed their team “Santina”, saying they are forcing all the other teams to raise their level.

Asked about their winning streak, the Czech ex-world No3 in doubles, said: “That’s insane. I think it’s just going to give them more confidence, but also more pressure to keep that streak going…

“I think they’re just playing so solid, so strong in every aspect of the game and that’s why you have to bring your best level. We did that today. A couple of points here and there we would maybe get the first set and then the story is open.

“But it’s very good to have them. I think it’s helping women’s doubles, and it’s helping us as a team to get better and keep improving and working on our game.”

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Rod Laver believes Federer has another Grand Slam in him

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Roger Federer has lost to Novak Djokovic in their last four major showdowns.

Aussie legend Rod Laver believes Roger Federer still has another major victory in him despite the Swiss suffering yet another grand slam defeat to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open semi-finals on Thursday.

Federer has been in search of a record-extending 18th grand slam trophy ever since he won his 17th at Wimbledon in 2012. But the world No3 has been stopped in his tracks – losing to Djokovic in their last four major showdowns – and many wonder whether Federer, at 34, can add to his tally.

But Laver, who is the only player to complete the Grand Slam twice, in 1962 and 1969, believes Federer can still win another major.

“I tend to think so,” said Laver. “I thought even this time he looked like he was playing great tennis those two matches prior. So when you see that, you think ‘well, yeah, Roger’s got a chance’.

“So, yeah, somewhere around the line maybe Wimbledon is an opportunity for him to do that.

“He certainly knows the territory. He knows the competition. If he gets a good draw, and I think that’s always very big, there’s probably two, three, four guys that you would really rather not have to play. If they’re in the other half, you’ve got an opportunity.

“I think it’s possible. But maybe it’s a big stretch.”

Federer was destroyed in the first two sets against Djokovic in their semi-final on Thursday before he stopped the bleeding and took the third, eventually losing in four to the world No1.

Laver paid tribute to Djokovic’s form and says there wasn’t much Federer could have done differently.

“Looking at the mistakes, I think Novak had maybe five mistakes in those two sets. It was just quite incredible the speed he was getting around the court and being able to hit great shots down the line, just an inch inside the line,” said the 77-year-old.

“I don’t think Roger was negative in hitting any groundstrokes. It looked like he was doing pretty well with the groundstrokes when he came to the net, but Novak had all the answers and he played beautifully.”

On his part, Federer, who beat Djokovic three times last season but only in best-of-three encounters, rejected the suggestion that he is unable to keep up with the Serb in best-of-five play.

“I have self-confidence. That doesn’t fade away very quickly. I know it’s not easy. I never thought it was easy,” said Federer after his loss.

“But, you know… Best-of-three, best-of-five, I can run for four or five hours. It’s not a problem.

“I know you guys make it a different case. I get that, because you think I’m old and all that. But it’s no problem for me. But it doesn’t scare me when I go into a big match against any player who’s in their prime right now.”

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