Grande Nole wins 400th career match, joins Nadal in Melbourne final!

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Nole has reached the Australian Open final for the third time in his career!

The Serbian world no.1 has overcome fourth-seeded Andy Murray in a five-set epic semifinal encounter that lasted four hours and 50 minutes.

Novak came back from two sets to one down to win the thriller 6-3, 3-6, 6-7(4), 6-1, 7-5 on Rod Laver Arena on Friday. It is his 400th ATP career victory.

The rallies exceeded 20, 30, and even 40 shots. The flow of momentum was turning from one player to the other, and a winner was impossible to pick until almost the very last point.

Novak had Murray under pressure early in the opening set. The top seed failed converting his two chances in the second game, but capitalised on his opportunity in the fourth for 3-1. The Dunblane native fought back immediately, but Nole broke him once again in the sixth game and took the set 6-3 in 47 minutes.

Nole made an early break in the second set, benefitting from his rival’s errors. He had a chance for a double break lead, but Andy held and that gave him a huge boost of confidence. It was a momentum shift and the Scot won six of the next seven games to win the set 6-3.

The fourth seed continued his momentum into the third set, and Novak looked exhausted. In the opening game, the defending champion fought off five break points to hold serve. Murray broke him in the third game, but immediately allowed Nole to draw level. The Scot missed the chance to regain the advantage in the fifth game as the Serb held on for a 3-2 lead. A week younger Djokovic had three break/set points at 5-4, but he couldn’t clinch the set. He got broken in the next game, but when Murray served for the set at 6-5, he was the one who couldn’t close it. It was the Scot who grabbed the two sets to one lead when he won the tiebreak 7-4. The set lasted 88 minutes.

Nole demonstrated his mental strength as he dismissed the disappointment of losing the third set and raced to a commanding 4-0 lead. A third break of serve in the seventh game saw him clinch the 25-minute set.

The four-time Grand Slam champion made a break in the sixth game of the decisive fifth set and held for convincing 5-2 lead. He served for the match in the ninth game, but Andy showed his fighting spirit, broke back to love and got back to 5-5. Nole reclaimed command by fighting off three break points in the 11th game and clinched the amazing semi-final to progress to his third final in five years at Melbourne Park.

“Andy deserves the credit to come back from 5-2 down, he was fighting, I was fighting. It was evidently a physical match, it was one of the best matches I have played, emotionally and physically it was equally hard,” said Nole after the victory.

Match statistics: aces (11-9), double faults (6-10), winners (49-47), unforced errors (69-86), total points won (184-161).

Djokovic converted eleven of his twenty six break point chances, while Murray capitalised on seven of his 24 break point opportunities.

The Serb won 21 of 28 points when he came to the net (75%) ; the Scot was successful with 19 of his 27 net approaches (70%).

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The defending champion will now play 2009 Australian Open winner Rafael Nadal in Sunday’s eagerly-anticipated final.

The meeting will be the 30th between the best two players in the world, with Nadal winning 16 of their previous 29 meetings. Nole won all six encounters in 2011, all finals, and took over the no.1 ranking from the Manacor native.

“I am extremely delighted to be in to the final round, and what can be a bigger challenge than playing Rafael Nadal,” Novak said.

The match is scheduled on Sunday at 09.30 CET (19.30 local time).

Good luck Nole!

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