Tramlines

Third time lucky?

Tramlines

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Andy Murray never seems to do things the easy way, does he? At least not at this stage of a Grand Slam he doesn't.

Three hours and 46 minutes after he took to Rod Laver Arena on a cool Melbourne evening, Murray finally saw off the tenacious challenge of David Ferrer and booked a place in his third Grand Slam final.

It wasn't straightforward, not by a long way, but it was never going to be. He lost the first set and the second went all the way to a tie-break before he finally clicked into gear.

His demolition of Ferrer in that breaker was spectacular, as was his form in the third, but the fourth was entirely different and Murray was made to work harder than he has before at these championships to close out the match.

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Ferrer is like a dog (in the nicest sense). A very fast dog which never stops running. He chases down every point until there is absolutely zero chance of him retrieving it. Tactically he is astute, as Rafa Nadal found out the other night. And on the offensive, he's no slouch either.

But Murray was just too good for him in the end and, despite having put his fans through the mill once more, he now gets a chance to go one better than last year and claim his first Grand Slam title.

Some say he will never do it, that his ship has already sailed, but there can be no denying that this has to be his best chance yet.

Roger is back at home, Rafa too and the only man now standing in his way is Novak Djokovic, an adversary and friend he knows well.

Having been defeated by Roger Federer in his last two Slam final appearances - the latter which famously brought tears to his eyes on the very same court 12 months ago - Murray will be glad of a different opponent to master.

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Yet, once again, it won't be easy. Djokovic is in tremendous form and the Serb already has one Slam under his belt - the 2008 Aussie Open - so it could be argued he will be under less pressure on the day.

Murray not only has his own personal battle for glory to contend with, but also the weight of history on his shoulders as he fights to become the first British man to win a Slam since Fred Perry in 1936.

Poor bloke, you almost feel sorry for him. But then you remember this is no time for sympathy, it is a time for optimism. Murray has a great chance to silence his doubters and make his mark in the history books. Now is his time.

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The media fascination with women's finalist Li Na continues with the Chinese contingent in the press room the hottest ticket in town at the moment.

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Everyone it seems wants to know how things work in China, understandably so given the apparent lack of information available on the game from the emerging tennis nation.

Trammers overheard one poor fellow giving at least three interviews to the French, Australian and American press, all of whom were desperate for an insight into how tennis is viewed in the People's Republic.

Li too has been bombarded with questions and, despite her claims that "if you need, you just ask the Federation", it is difficult not to get the impression that tennis has yet to register on the radar over there.

One of the more telling exchanges came when Li was asked if her Federation's boss was in Melbourne. "No, she's not here," was the response.  "She's in Beijing."

Will she come to the final? "I don't think so," said Li.

Trammers fully appreciates that Australia is far away from pretty much everywhere, but considering Li's achievement in becoming the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam final, you'd expect a little more support than a mere text message, wouldn't you?

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Meet George Morgan. You may not be familiar with the name just yet, but you will be soon enough.

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The 17-year-old Manchester United fan who hails from Bolton is on an arcing career trajectory that has already seen him claim last month's prestigious Orange Bowl trophy in Key Biscayne, Florida.

And he has now followed that up with a semi-final appearance in the juniors tournament here in Melbourne.

Not a bad couple of months for the teenager, whose ferocity on the court is at odds with his quiet, personable demeanour off it.

So where does he get his inspiration from? Roger? Rafa? Nole?

None of the above. The man he holds in the highest regard is none other than fellow Brit Andy Murray.

"He definitely inspires me the most out of all the players," he told Trammers after his eventual exit, 6-3 6-4 to Czech number one seed Jiri Vesely.

"I like the way he plays and he's British. I believe if a Brit can do it, I can do it.

"I've hit with him a few times and he's really supportive. When we practise, he says things like good luck and well done."

Morgan watched Murray's match later in the day, and Trammers reckons as far as role models go, the youngster could do a lot worse than his Scottish hero.

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Trammers was privileged enough to sneak on to centre court before the hoards were let in today and witness a very private practice session ahead of the ladies' doubles final between Gisela Dulko/Flavia Pennetta and Victoria Azarenka/Maria Kirilenko.

When Trammers got out there, the latter pair were knocking up on court as Azarenka, perhaps thinking no one was watching, was attempting some particularly outrageous through-the-legs shots.

Three times the Belarusian tried to 'do a Roger' and three times she failed, before eventually blaming the sun in her eyes and giving up.

Her failures were undoubtedly comical but they certainly made Trammers appreciate just how difficult a skill it is to master - and how incredibly talented Roger is.

It didn't get any better for Azarenka either, as she and Kirilenko lost the final, despite having been a set up.

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TWEET OF THE DAY: "Tucking into a sausage roll and reading bbc live updates..vamos andresito!" What's wrong with the Eurosport live updates, Jamie Murray?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Yesterday I got a text message from the Federation boss. She say, 'Oh, well done. You come back, I pay the dinner'.  I say, 'What, only the dinner?'" Li Na wants more than a meal ticket for her accomplishments in Melbourne this year - and rightly so.   

SHOT OF THE DAY: A quite simply magnificent topspin lob on break point at 4-1 up in the third set from Andy Murray.

CAPTION CORNER: Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko 'gesture' during their women's doubles final. Over to you...

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