Four-time runner-up Andy Murray earned another opportunity at an illusive Australian Open title after outlasting Milos Raonic in a five-set epic on Friday.
Four-time runner-up Andy Murray earned another opportunity at an elusive Australian Open title after outlasting Milos Raonic in a five-set epic on Friday.
Murray twice trailed after losing the first and third sets but the world number two dug deep to see off the 13th seed 4-6 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-2 in a four-hour battle on Rod Laver Arena.
Raonic looked the dominant force for most parts, his aggressive serve-and-volley game troubling Murray, but an apparent groin injury hampered the Canadian late in the contest as his opponent advanced to an ninth grand-slam final.
Murray - a two-time major winner - will now square-off against defending champion Novak Djokovic on Sunday in a repeat of last year's decider at Melbourne Park.
Raonic - unbeaten in 2016 prior to the match and appearing in just his second slam semi-final - made a dream start. After breaking to love in the opening game, he fought from 0-40 down to hold serve and consolidate his lead.
The big-serving Canadian, who clocked a 233km/h serve, continued to trouble Murray and almost broke for a 5-2 advantage but the Brit managed to fend off the break point.
It only delayed the inevitable as Raonic served out the set following a successful challenge on his first serve, which had initially been called a double fault.
The pair traded some breath-taking baseline rallies in the second but there were no breaks until the Murray finally struck in the 12th and decisive game.
Raonic's trusty serve-and-volley tactic had proved so effective but it came unstuck when trailing 30-40, after he found the net from close range, handing Murray the set.
Neither Raonic nor Murray wasted any time in the third set.
A staggering 21 consecutive points were won on serve before Murray ended the sequence with a backhanded passing shot in the sixth game.
The pair continued to go toe-to-toe as the set went to a tie-break, after Murray saved a break point with a net cord in the 11th game.
But an aggressive Raonic was not to be denied in the shootout, an ace straight down the middle ensuring a two-sets-to-one lead.
Raonic then called for the trainer and took an off-court medical timeout early in the fourth set, though he reappeared with no signs of injury.
Murray, however, managed to pull clear after breaking to love in the seventh game before fending off three break points as he forced a fifth and deciding set.
That was the opening Murray needed as he raced into the tournament finale after Raonic lost his cool, smashing his racquet and earning a code violation having dropped serve in the opening game, Murray breaking twice as he powered into the final.
Murray  bt Raonic  4-6 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-2
Murray - 9
Raonic - 23
Murray - 38/28
Raonic - 72/78
BREAK POINTS WON
Murray - 4/16
Raonic - 1/6
FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Murray - 68
Raonic - 67
PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Murray - 79/68
Raonic - 77/44
Murray - 169
Raonic - 149