MELBOURNE, Australia — There he was, mouth agape and roaring. And the force from Andy Murray's lungs seemed to add heft to the forehand winner he had hurled down the line.
The semifinal match against Marin Cilic turned there — in the fifth game of the second set — and it would not be long before the 22-year-old Scot was on his way to the Australian Open final.
After dropping serve twice in the opening set, Murray recovered Thursday to win 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 and reach his second Grand Slam final.
"(Cilic) played some really aggressive tennis … was putting me under a lot of pressure," Murray said. "That shot made a big difference. I just managed to chase it down." After watching the replay, he added: "I never realized my mouth was so big."
Now, with only top-ranked Roger Federer or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga ahead, Murray is one win from breaking a drought for British men at the four majors that dates to Fred Perry in 1936.
That's a lot of pressure on Murray. It proved too much for the likes of Tim Henman, John Lloyd and others. He held up under it at least for a few sets Thursday, exemplified in one riveting point.
Murray raced to the net to reach a ball that had caught the net and dropped onto his side. He then made a lunging volley to extend the rally and sprinted back to the baseline to chase down Cilic's deep lob. Spinning as he swung the racket blindly right to left, he hit a forehand winner past Cilic. Then he let out a roar.
Murray is the first British man to reach the Australian Open final since Lloyd in 1977.
Henin meets Serena in women's final
Even Serena Williams likes the story of Justine Henin's comeback. It's an "amazing" tale, she said.
Two tournaments back from a 20-month retirement, Henin advanced to the final with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Zheng Jie that took 51 minutes. It was the most lopsided Australian semi since Chris Evert beat Andrea Jaeger by that score in 1982.
"I'm aware that this is extraordinary," said Henin, 27.
Henin goes for an eighth Slam title and her first in Australia since 2004. Williams, who beat Li Na 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-1) in their semifinal., has never lost in four finals in Melbourne. Williams leads 7-6 in their overall matchups. In Slams, Henin leads 4-2. They've never met in a Slam final.
"We bring out the best game in each other," Williams said.