ANDY Murray played down an on-court altercation with Roger Federer after beating the Swiss to advance to his third Australian Open final.
The incident occurred in the 12th game of the fourth set when Federer appeared to shout an obscenity at the third seed after believing he had stopped mid-point and was going to challenge a line-call on the baseline.
Instead, Murray played on and won the point with a forehand winner as Federer came in behind a weak approach.
Asked about it afterwards, Murray claimed “stuff like that happens daily in tennis matches” but would not elaborate on what was said.
It happened at a key juncture with Murray serving for the match. A fired-up Federer promptly broke and won the tie-breaker to take it to a deciding set.
Murray had the final word, though, cruising through the fifth to complete a 6-4 6-7 (5/7) 6-3 6-7 (2/7) 6-2 victory, his first over Federer in a grand slam, in exactly four hours.
“It was very mild in comparison with what happens in other sports. It was just one of those things,” said Murray, who will meet defending champion Novak Djokovic in tomorrow’s final.
“There’s no hard feelings.”
Federer also refused to hype up the incident, saying: “It wasn’t a big deal.
“We just looked at each other one time. That’s okay. We were just checking each other out a bit.
“It wasn’t a big deal for me and I hope not for him.”
The disagreement should not overshadow a performance from Murray which again showed he is now very much the equal of Federer, Djokovic and the currently injured Rafael Nadal.
In the last seven months, the Scot has reached the final of Wimbledon, losing to Federer, taken his revenge to win Olympic gold and also won his first grand slam title at the US Open.
And in winning yesterday, he also became the first Briton to reach three Melbourne finals.
His victory owed much to the way he was able to bounce back from losing two tie-breaks.
In the first, he made a horrible misjudgement at 5-5, attempting a slam-dunk-smash on a ball which was going well out, only succeeding in popping it over the net for Federer to put away.
The second came shortly after missing the chance to serve out the match and when Federer was in full flow.
The 25-year-old showed great composure, though, to gather himself to run through the decider after taking a 3-0 lead in just 12 minutes.
It was nothing more than he deserved for an excellent performance which saw him dominate for long spells.
Two statistics were particularly telling: Murray had a winner/unforced error differential of plus 15 with Federer’s minus 17; and the Scot won 63 per cent of points on his second serve compared to just 42 per cent for the Swiss.
“It was a tough match,” said Murray. “A lot of ups and downs but I thought I did a good job, I did all the things I needed to do and I did them well. To lose the second and fourth sets from good positions was tough but I was happy with the way I responded.”
Federer had no arguments with the result and admitted he was playing catch up for most of the night. “I was down in the score basically from the start,” said the 17-time grand slam champion. “It was more of a chase although I was able to level a couple of times.
“I think Andy was a bit better than I. I was hoping to do a bit better but overall I’m pretty pleased with the tournament.”