MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Andy Murray will get another chance to end a near 75-year winless streak for British men in Grand Slam singles tournaments after beating Spain's David Ferrer 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-1, 7-6 (2) Friday to reach the Australian Open final.
The semifinal win put Murray into Sunday's final against Novak Djokovic of Serbia, the 2008 champion who holds a 4-3 edge in head-to-head matches. However, Murray has won the last three.
Murray faced a set point in the second that would have had him trailing 2-0, but fought back to beat Ferrer for the third time in six career meetings.
"I think towards the end of the second set I started going for my shots more. I was missing a lot earlier," Murray said. "I changed my string tension and managed to come through. I changed my tactics ... played closer to the baseline, waiting for my shots a bit more."
Ferrer was disappointed by his missed opportunities.
"Andy, in important moments, serve better than me," Ferrer said. "So I can't do nothing more. I fight a lot. I tried my best game all the time, but Andy's a very, very great player."
No British male has won a Grand Slam singles title since Fred Perry in 1936 — more than 270 Grand Slam tournaments ago. The drought endured with Tim Henman and most recently Murray, who lost in straight sets to Roger Federer in the final last year.
Federer is gone from this tournament, beaten by Djokovic in the semifinals. Top-ranked Rafael Nadal, who was trying to win his fourth straight Grand Slam tournament, is also gone. He was hobbled by a thigh injury in his quarterfinal loss to Ferrer.
Kim Clijsters, who will play the final Saturday against Li Na of China, thinks that 2011 will "probably" be her last full year on the tennis tour.
When asked if the Australian Open women's final could be her last appearance at Melbourne Park, the 27-year-old Clijsters replied: "Yeah, it is."
The men's semifinal was filled with long rallies and plenty of booming forehands that just cleared the net. Murray mixed it up enough at times that his looping lob on break point at 4-1 in the third set went high over seventh-seeded Ferrer's head, allowing the Spaniard to only watch as the ball bounced meters inside the line.
"My body was feeling it a bit at the end," Murray said. "Both of us did a lot of running."
Ferrer won the first set by breaking Murray's serve in the 10th game, and had a set point to go up 2-0 in the second. But Murray saved it and evened it at 5-5. The two exchanged service breaks in the next two games to send the second set to a tiebreaker, which Murray led 6-0.
He overwhelmed Ferrer in the two tiebreak sets, allowing the Spanish player just four points.
"I served well in both of them," Murray said. "I got off to a good start, and that always makes a difference."
"I had my chance in the set point in the second set, but in the important moments he served really well," Ferrer said. "In the tiebreak, maybe he start better than me."
Murray says he and Djokovic are good friends and often train together.
"I think experience-wise we are similar," Murray said. "There won't be any secrets with our games but it's going to be a brutal match."
Earlier Friday, the top-ranked team of Gisela Dulko of Argentina and Italian Flavia Pennetta rallied from a set and 4-1 down to beat Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 for the doubles title.
It was the first Grand Slam title for the team of Dulko and Pennetta, who made it to the quarterfinals at all the Grand Slams last year and the Wimbledon semifinals.
Dulko and Pennetta, ranked No. 1 and No. 2 among doubles players, were already up a break in the deciding set at 3-1 when they broke again when Kirilenko netted a backhand.
They held in their next service game, then broke Azarenka and Kirilenko again to close out the match.
Clijsters returned to the tour in late 2009 after a 2 1/2-year break, during which she go married and had a child. She won the 2009 U.S. Open in her third tournament back and has won five singles titles since her return, including the last year's U.S. Open.
When she won the 2009 U.S. Open, she became the first mother to win a Grand Slam singles title since Evonne Goolagong Cawley at Wimbledon in 1980.
Clijsters said Friday the birth of her daughter, Jada, and the death of her father, Leo, may have contributed to her return to the tour.
"Obviously so many things happened in those two years — the loss of my dad as well was something that kind of triggered me trying to do something different for a while to kind of get my mind off it and to try and put some time into kind of myself," she said.