Australian Open: Fifth time lucky for Murray?


Zero and four. It has been a case of so close yet so far for Andy Murray in Melbourne.

Four finals and four runner-up trophies is nothing to be disappointed about, but Murray has been left virtually empty-handed in his quest for that elusive Australian Open crown.

Most importantly, the two-time grand slam champion will get another opportunity against nemesis and world number one Novak Djokovic after outlasting Milos Raonic in a five-set epic on Friday.

Last year's decider was a bitter pill to swallow for Murray.

Not much separated the pair 12 months ago, but Murray, contending with Djokovic stumbling at the other end of the court, faltered when it mattered most as the Serb penetrated his opponent's ironclad defence to reign supreme at Melbourne Park for a fifth time.

Murray did go on to beat Djokovic in the final of the Rogers Cup seven months later, his only win over the world number one in seven attempts in 2015.

And while they will not admit it, the 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-0 Australian Open loss - his third against Djokovic in a final at Melbourne Park following 2011 and 2013 - left a wound in the Murray camp.

"Last year here is a good match for me to look at because the tennis, in my opinion, wasn't miles apart," an upbeat Murray said on Friday after more than four hours on court against Canadian 13th seed Raonic. "It was a very close match for three sets.

"Same thing in Miami [beaten in three sets in the final] when we played there. A couple sets were very tight. French Open [a semi-final loser after five sets] was close, as well. Obviously managed to get the win in Canada [a three-set victory] in another very close match.

"The most important thing for me is to sustain my level for long enough, not just for one set here or there, a few games here or there. I need to do it for a very long period if I want to get the win. That's my challenge on Sunday."

Murray - who trails their head-to-head record 21-9 - has proven he can perform on the big stage against Djokovic, having seen off the 10-time slam champion to claim his major titles at the 2012 US Open and Wimbledon in 2013.

But a lot depends on him winning the first set.

In 17 matches when he has dropped the opener, Murray has failed to beat Djokovic.

That is an ominous sign for the 28-year-old.