Roger Federer crashed out of the Australian Open on Friday to give Andy Murray his best chance yet of finally winning a Grand Slam. The Scot is now just two matches away from becoming the first Briton since Fred Perry in 1937 to win a Major. And for the first time in his career, neither Federer or Rafa Nadal is standing in his way.
Murray’s path to the final opened up when Nadal lost to David Ferrer in the quarter finals on Wednesday, and his chances of actually winning the event improved considerably when Federer succumbed to Novak Djokovic in the first semi final on Thursday.
Murray will now play Nadal’s conqueror, Spaniard David Ferrer, on Friday and, if he is successful, will face Djokovic in the final.
The Scot has played in four Grand Slam semis in the past, winning two and losing two. He made it to two finals, but was beaten by Federer on both occasions, something that cannot happen this time round.
Indeed the final in Melbourne, whether or not Murray contests it, will be something of a novelty as it will be only the third in almost seven years not to feature either Federer or Nadal.
Incredibly, one of them has made it to the final of all but two of the last 26 Grand Slams (the Australian Opens of 2005 and 2008), and between them they have won 23 of them.
Since Marat Safin won the 2005 Australian Open, only two men other than Federer and Nadal have won a Major. Juan Martin del Potro unexpectedly beat Federer at the US Open in 2009, and Djokovic took advantage of their absence from the 2008 Melbourne final by beating unseeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
If Murray does go on to win the title, and it is still a big if, then it could mark the end of the Nadal and Federer era, as Murray would be the first man to win a Grand Slam final without having beaten one of the big two since the little-known Argentinian Gaston Gaudio won the French Open in 2004.