If ever there was a win to cement your belief that Andy Murray will one day become a grand slam champion, that was it. Wow!
Andy Murray did not obliterate Rafael Nadal by any means, but his maturity and confidence shone as brightly as the fireworks that sparked in the Melbourne skyline. Off his racquet, his forehand was impressive as it was in their 2008 US Open encounter, flattened out and hit with real gusto. His backhand, proving to be his signature stroke and in my opinion, the best backhand on display in the ATP today, was even more devastating. It delivered winner after winner, stood up well to Nadal's cross-court forehand which is famously laced with spin, and created space for Murray to arrow winners into. Oh, and how nice to see the British number one approach the net on break points
to mix it up.
In the mental department, I thought our boy was absolutely colossal. From the thirteen aces fired down past Nadal, the vast majority of them came on crucial points. Nadal carved out twelve break point opportunities, but due to Murray's clutch play and controlled aggression, he could only convert on two of them. It was this coolness under pressure that made me nod my head in admiration, and say 'this guy is destined to win a Slam'. When I look back on previous encounters, it has been Nadal who has shown these battling qualities, so it was very pleasing to see Murray slam the door shut on most of the Spaniard's break point opportunities.
Condemned by many keyboard warriors on the Internet, as a 'pusher', or a 'junkballer', it was extremely satisfying to see Murray hit through Nadal with regularity, and a startling reminder that Murray is arguably the most versatile tennis player around at the moment.
It was disappointing to see Rafa retire early and end the match prematurely, but the defending champion was visibly upset with his knee injury. Sadly, it is becoming all too common, to read of injuries sustained by Nadal, and I hope he is back to thrill us all as soon as possible.
Looking ahead to the semi-final match with Cilic is relatively more straightforward. You know what you are getting with the Croatian, massive serve, massive groundstrokes, and on the evidence of the last 10 days, a real fighter. Lest not forget how easily Murray succumbed to him last September, but lest not also forget the circumstances which surrounded the match. Cilic is on the form of his young career at the moment, but I think Murray will be fully focused on the match ahead, and being the fresher player, should progress. Murray will be out to prove a point, and if the tactics are appropriate, I think we will be watching the Scot in his second career grand slam final, who would have thought it? Not me, that is for sure.
Can he go all the way? Depends who he meets in the final. I sincerely hope it's Federer.