Tennis opposites vie for Open final berth

Yin meets Yang on Friday night when tennis opposites Andy Murray and Milos Raonic clash for a place in the Australian Open final at Melbourne Park.

On court and off, the two title hopefuls could scarcely be more different in personality – Raonic a cultured, theatre-loving Canadian at one with his emotions; Murray the combustible Scot who wears his heart on his sleeve.

While the football-mad Murray is at home taking in an EPL game in his down-time, Raonic prefers a trip to the National Gallery of Victoria’s Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei exhibit.

“Magnificent in many ways,” Raonic said after dispatching flamboyant Frenchman Gael Monfils in four sets to reach the final four in Melbourne for the first time.

“I think that whatever iteration you see of Andy Warhol’s life has sort of been redefined over many years due to his unfortunate passing.

“But Weiwei’s story is constantly building, and you’re hearing something different.”

Deep stuff and Raonic has never been deeper at a grand slam than this week.

Now the in-form 25-year-old is preparing to pit his supersonic serve against Murray’s deadly return at Rod Laver Arena.

Polar opposites in playing style too, but two combatants sharing a common goal at the season’s first slam.

Unbeaten in 2016 after trumping Roger Federer in the Brisbane International final, Raonic is intent on breaking the grand slam stronghold of tennis’s big four, while Murray is desperate to land an elusive title in Melbourne after four gut-wrenching finals defeats.

Head to head, the combatants are square at three wins apiece, with Raonic’s last victory over the second-ranked Murray coming in 2014 in Indian Wells.

“It’s a great challenge ahead of me – a challenge that I believe I have within myself to find the solution to,” said Raonic, seeded 13th.

“It’s (going to be) a great fight that I’m going to put out there with all my heart, all my effort, and hopefully I can make the most of the opportunity.”

Raonic, who has cruised into the semi-finals without so much as a smile, fist pump or cursory glance at an umpire, hasn’t always been so in control.

But after splitting with Croatian coach Ivan Ljubicic – the former tour player now mentoring Roger Federer – the Montenegro-born star has learnt to bite his tongue under new Spanish supercoach Carlos Moya.

Murray, once again creating headlines at Melbourne park for blasting his courtside box and demanding in no uncertain terms his entourage “get off the phone” during his fourth-round win over Bernard Tomic, isn’t all Yin either.

The dual grand slam champion finds his serenity in walking his Border terrier Maggie May.

But expect the Great Scot to border on terrier again when he chases down every ball in pursuit of an Open final berth for the fifth time in six years on Friday night.

2-ANDY MURRAY (GBR) level 3-3 with 13-Milos Raonic (CAN)

2015 Madrid Masters, clay, QF, Murray 6-4 7-5

2014 World Tour Finals, London, hard, RR, Murray 6-3 7-5

2014 Indian Wells Masters, hard, R16, Raonic 4-6 7-5 6-3

2012 Tokyo, hard, SF, Raonic 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-4)

2012 US Open, hard, R16, Murray 6-4 6-4 6-2

2012 Barcelona, clay, QF, Raonic 6-4 7-6 (7-3)


Age: 28

Ranking: 2

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US42,435,316 ($A60.23 million)

Career titles: 35

Grand slam titles: 2

Career win-loss record: 557-165

Australian Open win-loss record: 44-10

Best Australian Open result: runner-up 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015


Age: 25

Ranking: 14

Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)

Career prize money: $US8,878,174 ($A12.60 million)

Career titles: 8

Grand slam titles: 0

Career win-loss record: 216-103

Australian Open win-loss record: 19-5

Best Australian Open result: semi-finalist 2016

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