Andy Murray spoke of his pride at reaching a fourth Australian Open final in the last six years after winning a bad-tempered semi-final clash with Tomas Berdych on Thursday.
Murray recovered from losing the opening set to win 6-7 (6/8) 6-0 6-3 7-5 in three hours and 26 minutes and set up a Sunday showdown with either world number one Novak Djokovic or defending champion Stan Wawrinka.
The 27-year-old lost to Djokovic in the final in 2011 and 2013 and is looking to become the first man in the open era to win the title after losing three finals. His other defeat came to Roger Federer in 2010.
“It’s great,” Murray said. “To be in the final four times here, I mean, because I’m surrounded by guys like Roger, Novak and Rafa (Nadal), doesn’t look like much, but that doesn’t happen that often. So I’m very proud of that.”
Murray and Berdych had attempted to play down the significance of Dani Vallverdu to the contest, the Venezuelan now coaching Berdych after several years in Murray’s camp, during which time he helped his long-time friend win the US Open, Wimbledon and Olympic titles.
However, Murray admitted there had been extra tension in a tetchy encounter which even saw Murray’s fiancee Kim Sears caught swearing on camera.
“A lot was made of Dani working with him,” he added.
“We’ve been friends since we were 15 and I felt like that was a bit unfair and unnecessary. This is sport, there is more to life and I thought it was unfair and created a bit of extra tension. It was there definitely at the beginning but I think everyone calmed down after the start of the match.”
Murray also launched a staunch defence of his coach Amelie Mauresmo, whose appointment last year was thought to have caused disagreement in his camp. Vallverdu and fitness trainer Jez Green subsequently left in November.
“A lot of people criticised me for work ing with her and I think so far this week we have showed women can be very good coaches as well,” he added.
“Madison Keys, who reached the semi-finals here, is also coached by a woman in Lindsay Davenport and I see no reason why that can’t keep moving forward so I am very thankful to Amelie for doing it. I would say it was a brave choice from her and hopefully I can repay her in a few days.
“A lot of people were criticising her at the end of last year, like the way I was playing was her fault when I’d spent two weeks training with her up to the end of the year, until the training block. You can’t change things during tournaments.
“There was very little time to spend with each other,” he added.