Andy Murray doesn't have to worry about Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal this time. He is hardly in the clear, however, as he goes for his first major title.
Murray won his Australian Open semifinal, defeating David Ferrer 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-1, 7-6 (2). Next in line is 2008 champion and longtime friend Novak Djokovic in Sunday's final.
There is also, of course, that long, long British drought. Fred Perry was the last British man to win one of the four majors _ way back in 1936. More than 270 Grand Slam tournaments have been contested in almost 75 years since Perry's victory, when Britain had a King and an empire.
"First of all, it's more like a personal dream or a personal goal of mine," Murray said. "The historical thing, it's not something that I've thought about that much, but it's something that obviously for me personally I want to try and win. But I also don't want to get myself so amped up that I play a stinker of a match."
In beating the seventh-seeded Ferrer, Murray was facing his first top-10 opponent this year at Melbourne Park. Ferrer ousted Nadal in straight sets in the quarterfinals, although his fellow Spaniard was hobbled by an injured left leg when his pursuit of a fourth consecutive Grand Slam title evaporated.
Murray was leading Nadal by two sets and a break last year when the Spaniard retired with an injured knee. Then he lost the final in straight sets to Federer, the weight of expectations too great.
"If you go in thinking 'Yeah, no one's won for 60 years, I might never get another chance ... " Murray said. "I'm going to make the most of the opportunity, for sure. But I also need to make sure I'm relaxed and calm on the court. I don't want to get myself sort of too worked up."
Murray has twice been in this position, losing both the 2009 U.S. Open final and last year's Australian Open in straight sets to Federer. Djokovic dropped Federer 7-6 (3), 7-5, 6-4 in the semis in Melbourne, the same round in which he beat the Swiss star in 2008. It also backed up his victory over Federer in the last U.S. Open semifinals.
Murray is hoping two fresh faces in the final will be good for tennis. Federer and Nadal combined to win 21 of the previous 23 majors. Djokovic's victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Australia in 2008 was the only final in that span that didn't feature one of the top two players.
Djokovic and Murray have known each other since their early teens _ both are 23, their birthdays a week apart. But they have never met in a major.
"We've always been like 3 and 4 the last few years. We've always been on different halves of the draw in every tournament we've played," Murray said. "So we practice a lot together. We get on well together. We're good friends. You know, so in terms of a rivalry, I think this will be the start. Well, I hope it's the start of us playing each other in big matches."
Murray will get a day off to think about how he can improve on last year's performance.
"I'm sure I'll deal with everything better than I have done in the past on Sunday," he said. "I think last year was better than the one before, and I hope this one is going to be better than last year."
Djokovic leads their head-to-heads 4-3. Murray, however, has won the last three _ all on hardcourts.
"I think experiencewise we're similar ... You know, we're good friends, we practice a lot together ... so there won't be any secrets with our games," Murray said. "But it's going to be a brutal match, I think."
After two weeks of unseasonable cool weather, forecasters predict a 40-degree (104 F) scorcher Sunday. Djokovic has struggled with sweltering conditions in past majors, but he is confident in knowing neither Federer nor Nadal is around.
And he's hoping to teach his old friend Murray a thing or two.
"I think we reconnected again and become a bit closer. It's nice to see somebody that you grew up with. We played under 12, under 10, under 14. We grew up together. We basically made a breakthrough to the top 100 more or less at the same time.
"It's nice to see somebody who was your longtime friend doing well," he said. But, he added: "We're both professionals. Of course, we haven't played for a very long time. ... Going to be interesting."