Andy Murray preyed on the depleting resources of Marin Cilic, overcoming the Croatian strongman 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 at the Australian Open to reach the second Grand Slam final of his career.
Murray, 23, came to the court with only 10 hours of play in his body, compared to 18 for his opponent who had won three five-set contests over the fortnight.
The Scottish seed’s fresher legs made the difference in the war of attrition, with Murray dropping the first set with two breaks of serve but turning the tables to grind out the win.
Fifth seed Murray followed up his win in the quarterfinals over injured defending champion Rafael Nadal and awaits an opponent from the encounter between top-seed Roger Federer and the 2008 finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France.
Murray worked for just over three hours to claim his 12th victory at Melbourne Park as he duplicated his 2008 US Open final against Federer. Cilic had schooled the Scot in their New York fourth-round match four months ago with a straight set win.
Murray is the first British man in the post-1968 Open era to reach two Grand Slam finals.
The winner praised the fortitude of Cilic. “He showed incredible guts, he played back-to-back five-setters,” said Murray. “He made it so tough for me. Marin fought right to the end.” The winner struck a modest five aces and 40 winners while Cilic had 54 unforced errors as he lost serve five times.
Murray lost his first set of the tournament as he dropped the first before Cilic understandably ran out of puff. Murray now has the luxury of two days off before the Sunday night final.