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Day 12 preview: Roger Federer faces Andy Murray for Aussie Open final berth

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Andy Murray, Roger Federer shake hands

Andy Murray and Roger Federer last played at the ATP Finals, won by Federer in straight sets. (Sang Tan/AP)

Three singles matches in three days remain at the Australian Open. Roger Federer and Andy Murray meet in the last semifinal on Friday with the winner getting Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final.

 No. 2 Roger Federer vs. No. 3 Andy Murray (3:30 a.m. ET, ESPN): I feel pretty confident in saying that this men’s semifinal won’t turn out to be the 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 drubbing that David Ferrer received from Djokovic on Thursday night. No, for all the dramatic previews and trailers the men’s draw has provided — and we have to thank the Bernard Tomics, Stanislas Wawrinkas and Jo-Wilfried Tsongas of the world for that — the screen now turns dark. We begin the main attraction of the fortnight, as 128 players have dwindled to three. The Big Three.

Federer and Murray meet before the final of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time. Murray has another shot to get the one scalp that has eluded him on the big stage. It’s easy to forget that Murray is one of the few players, along with Rafael Nadal, who actually has a winning record against Federer. But despite that 10-9 edge, Murray is 0-for-3 against Federer in Slams, with his most recent loss coming in last year’s Wimbledon final. Of course, all that came before Murray got the better of him in the Olympic gold-medal match, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4, his first best-of-five win over Federer.

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Murray, the only semifinalist who has yet to drop a set, was blessed with an easy draw after Jeremy Chardy knocked out No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro in the third round. As a result, he’s faced only one seeded player through five matches, No. 14 Gilles Simon, who was clearly dead-legged after his five-set marathon win over Gael Monfils a round earlier. So the question is whether Murray is battle-tested coming into this match. Federer looked untouchable through four rounds before a five-set tussle with No. 7 Tsonga in the quarterfinals, narrowly escaping with a 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-3 win.

The British press reported this week that the Murray camp was unhappy that the Scot was given no night matches until now, putting him at a disadvantage to Federer, who has played four straight under the lights on Rod Laver Arena. Murray dismissed the reports, saying he would have scheduled things the same way if he were the tournament director. Regardless of what the truth is, the first few games of the match will be telling. After his quarterfinal victory, Murray went out to hit at Hisense Arena under the lights to get used to the conditions, but Hisense and RLA play differently. Murray won’t have much time to make the adjustments he needs, and if he’s not careful he could find himself in a one-set hole.

The keys for Murray are his serve and forehand. Those two shots allowed him to take his first set off Federer in a major, at Wimbledon, and beat him one month later at the Olympics. When they’re clicking, he can hold easily, remain aggressive in the rallies and stick his running passing shots. The forehand is the shot that’s more prone to break down for Murray, and Federer will keep banging away to that side in hopes of earning the error.

PREDICTION: Federer in five sets.

WERTHEIM: Five thoughts on women’s semifinals

  • Published On Jan 24, 2013
  • 5 comments
    Michael9
    Michael9

    Regardless of what the truth is? The truth about Murray's duplicitous comments are easily proven: any journalist can easily contact the Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley to verify exactly what Team Murray complained about. So it is interesting that news reports keep repeating Murray's duplicitous comments without verifying the Brit's claims with the Australian Open organizers.

     

    Team Murray's publicity campaign worked to whip up sympathy for Murray: British newspapers are spewing nonsense such as "clearly, Federer does get preferential treatment. At least, he does Down Under" (Evening Standard). As well, Murray is making pre-emptive excuses in case he loses -- after all, since the Open Era began in 1968, no professional player has reached the final of his next slam after winning his first slam. 

    http://tinyurl.com/am3pbaq

     

    It's interesting that 75% of people who took the poll expect Federer to win, with almost 48% expecting Federer to win in three or four sets.

     

    Murray winning the Olympic gold did not help the Scot avoid a straight set loss in 94 minutes (125 points) to Federer just two months ago at the World Tour Finals, the fifth most prestigious championship in tennis. That was the second time in four months that Murray got beaten in London (Andy's hometown since 2009) by Federer. As the commentators said: Federer put on a "clinic" and "masterclass" against Murray in their last match.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwmWpq25DZM

     

    Murray got the better of Federer at the Olympics final for several reasons: Federer was exhausted from his record breaking semifinal match against Del Potro (Federer played more games and almost the same number of points in that semfinal than Djokovic and Nadal did at last year's Australian Open marathon final); Murray came into the Olympics better prepared (Murray returned to practice at Wimbledon's All England Club just four days after losing the Wimbledon final while Federer continued on his vacation for another week); Murray was inspired by several British athletes winning gold medals the day before their match as well; and Murray was boosted by the fervent support of the patriotic Brits.

     

    Toss out Murray's misleading 10-9 edge in head to head matches. Murray benefited from winning 5 of 6 matches from Federer during Roger's 18-month relative slump between 2008 Australian Open to 2009 Rome (due to the aftermath of mononucleosis and back injuries). Since then (mid 2009), the aging Federer has been 7-4 over Murray in his prime. In 2012, Federer was not just 3-2 over Murray, but Federer won the more valuable matches in terms of ranking points: Federer won 1,400 ranking points (from winning Wimbledon final, World Tour Finals semifinal, Dubai final) over Murray's 540 points (from winning Olympics final, Shanghai Masters semifinal). Yes, Federer won almost three times as many points as Murray from their clashes last year.

    IdaAnnaTaylor
    IdaAnnaTaylor

    This one is hard to call because Murray has had an unbelievably easy draw so why wouldn't he look good and not drop a set?  Please.  Fed looked fantastic in his first four match against much tougher opponents.  And he held his own against a great Tsonga, although he did struggle somewhat with his serve and FH.  If Fed plays anywhere near the level of his first four matches, he'll be tough to beat.  If he struggles with his serve or FH, the match will be much closer.  Again, not sure what to expect from Murray since this will be his first real test.

    Playtime_Engine
    Playtime_Engine

    M'afraid I disagree Courtney.

     

    The stage is set and though a fan of Roger I can't see this being anything other than a Murray win, max in 4 sets. Murray looking extremely impressive in his straight-set progression to the semis [even allowing for a kind draw for once] and though people keep saying Fed still has the old magic, he spent far too much time on court against Tsonga and shanks a lot more backhands than ever before, and both the serve and the forehand are constantly prone to breaking down in the middle of matches. Expecting a very long and very gruelling [not like last year though] final where Djokovic will just edge it on Sunday. Sorry Fed Ex, you're still good enough at 31 to get you to semis of most tournaments you enter, but the field has caught up and superior fitness and consistency is now telling at the top. Would love another fairytale Slam win, possibly at Wimbledon [though not this year], but I just don't see it. Then again 17 is a figure that's unlikely to be bettered in my lifetime.

    ummair.malik
    ummair.malik

     @IdaAnnaTaylor I completely agree with you. Not facing a tough match and quality opponent may not be good for Murray, he must have liked some test before facing Federer. But anything can happen on a given day. Hoping for a great match