TENNIS: Murray looks for inspiration from Olympic triumph

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Andy Murray will use his Olympic victory for inspiration when he meets defending champion Novak Djokovic in the US Open final today.

It will be the Scot’s fifth time in a grand slam final and, like the other four, he will go in as the underdog.

Djokovic looked supreme in hitting back to beat David Ferrer today in his semi-final, which was held over from Saturday because of tornado warnings in the area.

Murray and Djokovic have met in a grand slam final before, at the Australian Open last year, where the Scot was handed one of the most painful beatings of his career, while his three other finals have all ended in defeat by Roger Federer.

Djokovic came out on top in Australia again this year but Murray pushed him all the way in a classic five-set semi-final, and the new world number three got his revenge at the Olympics, winning another last-four clash before going on to take gold.

Murray said: “I handled a big match against him well in Australia this year. It was a great match. I think both of us played very well. It came down to a couple of points.

“I know how much the Olympics meant to all of the players, and winning against him in the Olympic semi-final was a big win for me. I know how tough it is to beat the top, top players in big matches.

“I have had some tough losses against him but also had some big highs against him as well.

“Obviously it will be an unbelievably tough match. He moves very well on the hard courts. He’s a top, top player, one of the best players that’s played. The year he had last year was incredible.”

The fact Djokovic has not lost in a hard-court match at a grand slam since the US Open final in 2010 illustrates the size of Murray’s task.

Since then the Serb has won 27 matches, giving him two Australian Open titles and one US Open, and he has dropped only one set on his way to the final here.

But, the Australian Open final aside, Murray can take confidence in his record against a player he has been competing with since junior days.

Djokovic won their first four meetings but since then Murray has prevailed in six and lost four, with the pair tied at 2-2 in 2012.

The Scot has also had much the better of the schedule. Djokovic has twice been disrupted by the weather and tomorrow will be the sixth time the defending champion has been in action in seven days.

Only Fred Stolle in the 1960s has ever lost his first five grand slam finals, and Murray is hoping to emulate his coach Ivan Lendl, who also lost his first four before breaking his duck at the French Open in 1984.

The 25-year-old has certainly been getting closer. He won his first set in a final against Federer at Wimbledon before going on to beat the Swiss in the Olympic gold medal match.

He has now made back-to-back grand slam finals and more than one in a year for the first time in his career.

Murray is also, of course, looking to end one of the longest droughts in British sport and become the first man since Fred Perry 76 years ago to win a grand slam singles title.

The last of Perry’s titles came in America when he beat Don Budge in five sets, while, were Murray to win tomorrow, it would mark exactly 79 years since the Stockport great won the first of his major trophies at the US Open.

Murray added: “It’s the last thing that I really want to achieve in my career, so that’s why it’s obviously very important for me.

“Winning the Olympics did, for me, take a bit of the pressure off. I did feel a lot better after that. I maybe had less doubts about myself and my place in the game just now.

“But winning a major is the last thing that I really want to do. It means a lot to me. You saw at Wimbledon how much that meant to me. It’s obviously not easy to lose another slam final, so I hope this one is a different story.”