by Liam McConville

A lot was to be said by Andy Murray’s relatively low-key celebrations today, after he had defeated Roger Federer in five sets at the Australian Open. There was a quick march to the net for the traditional handshakes, and then a reasonably muted response to victory. Here was a man focused on triumph, for Murray now reaching a final is nothing, only winning tournaments will do.

It was the first time that the Scot had beaten the great man at a Slam, it secured him his sixth major final, and also meant he has reached the last three Grand Slam finals. This was Murray’s second big win over the Swiss legend in the last six months, following on from his crushing triumph in the Olympics.

Murray served for the match at 6-5 in the fourth but Federer fought back to break and claim the set. Previously the Scot may well have crumbled here, but now he has forged a new resilience and went on to clinically win the fifth set with minimum fuss. It was the performance of a true Grand Slam champion, which will have made his coach and mentor, Ivan Lendl a very proud man.

Since Murray’s own golden moment in the Olympics he has been a man transformed. First he ended the torturous wait for a British male singles winner at a Grand Slam by defeating World number one, Novak Djokovic at Flushing Meadows. Now he will face the Serbian in the final once again, their careers have intertwined for a long time and they seem set to battle for supremacy for many years to come.

Murray and Federer has been a compelling rivalry over the years, initially the seventeen times Major winner was the master, crushing Murray’s dreams many a time, notably in last year’s Wimbledon final. The British number one has always had a good record against Federer though, albeit until recently seeming unable to beat him on the biggest stage of all. Today felt like a changing of the guard though, Murray and Djokovic is becoming the major rivalry in tennis.

Federer of course is not finished, at thirty-one he is not the force he once was, but as he proved today he remains a formidable opponent. He is a legend who has been at the top of his sport for a decade, and shows no sign of quitting yet. The other member of tennis’ big four, Rafael Nadal is due to make his long-awaited comeback next month. The Spaniard hasn’t played since his shock elimination at Wimbledon last year, it remains to be seen whether he’ll be able to return to the levels that he was once capable of.

Sunday’s final promises much, it is arguably the top two in the world at the moment going toe-to-toe once more. The game will be a physical baseline battle and with any luck, we could be in line for another classic.