Blog: Murray comes of age

Al Jazeera's Chris Tortise praises the rise of Australian Open finalist Andy Murray.

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    Murray has matured into a consistent threat to the No1 spot [GALLO/GETTY]
    Step up, Andy Murray.

    From a petulant player, hurling abuse at himself and his corner, he has matured into a crowd-pleaser.

    It's difficult to think of another player that engages the crowd in the way the Scot does, and his victory over a much-improved Marin Cilic of Croatia at the Australian Open proved it.

    Despite a tame opening set, Murray was calm and slowly worked his way into a difficult match.

    And a spectacular shot was all it took to ignite the crowd, and himself, to propel him to his second Grand Slam final.

    The world number four has come under much criticism from the British press, claiming he doesn't have the nerve to win such a major title.

    But on Sunday, where he will face either Roger Federer or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Melbourne final, he will be going in expecting to win.

    It's with a new-found aggression that eased him into the title match, something he has been lacking in previous years.

    It's obvious there is more weight on his shots, especially his once-tame forehand. And the hard work has clearly paid off.

    Not only that, but he seems to have engaged spectators with his often mesmerising play.

    Losing just one set en-route to the final, he is in prime position to fight his way to the title, and push on for many more in the coming years.

    Fairytale

    The same could be said for Justine Henin, who demolished her Chinese opponent to continue her fairytale run in Melbourne.

    Henin has set up a mouth-watering final against long-time rival Serena [EPA]
    Although she has already won numerous slams, the Belgian could hardly have expected to be in this position so soon into her comeback.

    A victory in Australia would surely set a precedent for the year to come, in which she will no doubt improve even further.

    Serena Williams, the perpetual force in the women's game for the past decade, will be standing in her way, but looked fragile at times against China's Li Na.

    It will be a tense affair, probably strewn with errors, but Henin, the diminutive former world number one, will have the support of the boisterous Aussie crowd.

    Whether or not she wins will be down to her and how she copes with the situation.

    A special mention must be made, however, to Li Na, who has become the first Chinese player to break into the top 10 on the WTA rankings.

    She must now aim for top five, and possibly even a magical Grand Slam. Good luck!

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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