Andy Murray saved his best tennis of the tournament for Roger Federer, and he needed every ounce of it to notch his first win over Federer at a Slam, winning 6-4, 6-7, 6-3, 6-7, 6-2 to advance to his third straight Slam final. Federer was thoroughly outplayed by Murray in every facet of the match but was able to force a fifth set after an incredible effort to steal two sets via tiebreakers. But this was a win that had Ivan Lendl’s fingerprints all over it. Murray made Federer work for every point throughout the match and despite getting broken while serving for the match in the fourth set and losing the tiebreaker, Murray continued to strike the ball as well as he did in the first set while Federer’s fitness failed him.
Murray will face No. 1 Novak Djokovic in Sunday night’s final.
Game-by-game analysis after the jump.
4:45 a.m. ET | Murray wins 6-4, 6-7, 6-3, 6-7, 6-2.
Murray gets two match points thanks to a forehand return winner on a weak second serve from Federer. All he needs is one, as Federer sends a forehand long. No celebration. Barely even a fistpump. He just walks calmly to the net for the handshake. He knows this win wasn’t the goal. He’s got one more to go.
What a performance from Murray. And what an effort from Federer. Wow.
Here’s the final stat line. Murray played an absolutely unbelievable match.
Murray: 21 aces, zero doublefaults, 64 percent first serves, 63 percent second serve points won, 62 winners, 47 unforced errors, for a +15 differential.
Federer: 5 aces, 2 doublefualts, 61 percent first serves, 42 percent second serve points won, 43 winners, 60 unforced errors, for a -17 differential.
Lendl earned his Czech tonight. That was as much about attitude as ballstirking…—
Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) January 25, 2013
4:40 a.m. ET | Murray leads 5-2.
Federer with an easy hold and goes to grab a new racket to try and get the break back.
No dice. Murray might as well rip his shirt off and flex right now. He’s so much fitter than Federer. He’s serving as big as he was in the first game of the match and his movement makes Federer look slow. He’s now seeing the benefits of all that work throughout the match of making Federer work for every point. Those were body blows and now after four hours, Federer is staggering.
The No. 2 will serve to stay in the match.
4:35 a.m. ET | Murray leads 4-1.
Federer desperately needs his serve here and he’s stretching and moving his arms and legs between points. Is the body failing him? Mirka looking very nervous.
He’s fighting through another service game as Murray saves a game point with a return winner. It’s almost like Federer is fueled exclusively by adrenaline these days, at least against the top guys. He can go through 15-20 minute spurts when everything is firing and then the inevitable crash comes. That bodes well for his tiebreak record. Not so great for the few games afterwards. Despite looking flat, Federer holds.
Cahill says this is Federer’s best chance to break because Murray is serving from the tougher side. Yeah, no. Murray holds to love with some brilliant hitting.
lendl is loving this for all the hard yards they put in december in Miami to play in a match like this—
Brad Gilbert (@bgtennisnation) January 25, 2013
4:25 a.m. ET | Murray leads 3-0.
Is Andy Murray about to get Tsonga’d? Once again, Federer is thoroughly outplayed for the entire match but steals two sets via tiebreaks to force a fifth set. This would be a devastating loss for him. He really couldn’t have played a better match. Then again, he definitely could have played two better tiebreaks.
Lots of talk by commentators on ESPN and Eurosport about whether Federer got into Murray’s head by whatever he said to him in that 12th game. I don’t think there’s much to that. Murray laughed it off and if anything it just amped up Roger.
This is unchartered territory on all fronts here. This is the first five-set match between the two and the first time in his career that Federer’s been taken to five sets in back-to-back matches.
Murray holds and in the first point in Federer’s service game Murray gets drawn in by (another) Federer drop shot and fires it right at Federer, who dodges it and watches it sail long. On the next point Federer finally connects on a quick-step forehand winner cross court and let’s out a big “Allez!” Mind games, people. Mind games.
But Murray’s the one who’s kept his cool. He earns a break point and Murray wins it easily by pumping looping balls to Federer’s backhand until he shanks one badly. Definitely the most anticlimactic break of the match.
Murray holds to love like a boss. The crowd groans in collective sadness.
Through three games Federer has won four points.
Federer tank looks like its emptying quickly. Is there a fuel reserve in the great man?—
Howard Bryant (@hbryant42) January 25, 2013
4:15 a.m. ET | Federer wins the tiebreak 7-2. 2-2 sets all.
2-1: Federer races ahead with the minibreak to 2-0, but Murray gets on the board with a big service winner.
4-2: Murray gets the minibreak back on a Federer miss and gives it back with his own backhand error. “Come on,” says Federer. Sloppy tiebreak from both so far but Federer leads on the change of ends. Crowd going absolutely nuts trying to will Federer on.
6-2: Federer eats up Murray’s second serve — he’s puffing them in at 75mph — with a forehand return winner and Murray can’t do the same, duffing a backhand return long to give Federer four set points.
Murray nets another backhand return on a weak second serve and Federer wins the tiebreak 7-2.
Going five. Goodness.
Federer Houdini at his best—
Svenja Mastroberardi (@svenja_mastro) January 25, 2013
4:07 a.m. ET | Tied 6-6.
Murray serving for the match:
15-love: Murray with a backhand pass but it looks like Federer said something to him about stopping during the rally expecting an out call. Murray hears him and looks at his box and smiles, nodding his head. That’s a Lendl thing. Murray’s loving the fact that he’s getting under Federer’s skin.
30-15: Murray hits his 18th ace of the match.
30-30: Great forehand approach shot from Federer to get into the net and he finishes the point. Big point coming up? Yeah, maybe.
30-40: The old man ain’t done. Federer stays in the rally and then goes for glory, stepping into a backhand down the line for a winner.
FEDERER BREAKS. Murray fires a big serve and Federer gest a lunging backhand return back, Murray misses the forehand putaway. He had no business missing that shot. Oh boy.
4:00 a.m. ET | Murray leads 6-5.
Murray holds at love. Federer hits another dropshot that makes everyone and their mother go “Ewwwwwww.” Put that shot away dude. You’ve lost every single one.
Here comes Braveheart again. He’s got 0-30 on Federer’s serve again. Murray playing this match so well on a tactical perspective, sends a high ball to Federer’s backhand and Federer sends it long. Don’t forget to send Rafa a Valentine, Andy. You learned that from the Bull.
MURRAY BREAKS. Simply outrallies Federer who still hasn’t figured out how to hit through Murray. The Brit will serve for his first win over Federer at a Slam and a spot in his second straight Slam final.
6:53 a.m. ET | Federer 5-4.
Two lucky netcords on back to back shots get Federer a 30-30 look on Murray’s serve and he earns a break point with a perfect backhand down the line that clips the line. Don’t these boys know that old WTA addage? It’s not a break until you consolidate.
Federer steps around the forehand and rips a return but then misfires on a midcourt forehand. That miss officially replaces his ill-conceived dropshot at 30-30 in the last game as his worst misfire of the match as it would have given him the break and a chance to serve for the set.
Murray fires an ace that’s called out but with one challenge remaining he doesn’t challenge it. ESPN’s Shot Spot shows it was in and that would have given Murray the game. Instead he spins a 77mph second serve in and Federer crushes it to get back to deuce.
This crowd, which has been 60-40 for Federer through the match is now loudly in the Swiss’ corner. Murray showing some tremendous composure here to hold, while Federer’s dropping F-bombs. And no, that’s not a euphemism for his forehand.
Pressure on Federer’s serve here as Murray gets it to 0-30 with some tremendous defense. He scrambles and hits a perfect running topspin lob that Federer can’t get to. In fact he can’t even try his famous tweener.
have to love it when topspin lobs get standing O's—
Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) January 25, 2013
Federer shakes it off and holds. Murray will serve to stay in the set.
6:36 a.m. ET | Federer leads 4-3.
Kevin Spacey’s a big Murray fan and he’s in the RLA crowd. Could he be Murray’s good luck charm? He was there in New York when Murray lifted the trophy. As this match wears on I can’t think of one of Spacey’s great line-readings from The Usual Suspects: “How do you shoot the devil in the back? What if you miss?”
Not that Roger’s the devil, but you know what I mean. Murray has Federer dead to rights in every facet of the game except….nerves.
Murray holds and he’s got a break point to level the match. Earned it via a great scrambling return out wide and dipped a crosscourt pass that Federer couldn’t get back.
He gets the break back. Total brain-cramp from Federer in that game, who hit a face-palm of a drop shot at 30-30 that might have been a short lob. Murray got to it easily and put it away to earn that break point and now we’re back on serve.
6:30 a.m. ET | Federer leads 4-1.
A chance for Federer as he gets 0-30 on Murray’s serve. Murray successfully jams him and gets a short ball but Murray mishits it and it’s 0-40. First break points for Federer in almost two hours. Murray saves two with some big serving, but can’t save the third as Federer breaks for the first time when Murray misses a forehand crosscourt.
Now with the lead, Federer’s playing quickly and cleanly. He consolidates with a flurry of winners. It’s almost hilarious how different he plays when he has that little bit of daylight. Surely we’re going five? ESPN says Federer’s never played back-to-back five setters in his career.
Somewhere Novak is smiling/sleeping…. "I love the smell of Uniqlo in the morning."—
Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) January 25, 2013
6:22 a.m. ET | Federer leads 2-1.
After a short break while the players left the court to change their kits, we’re back with Federer serving first. He wins the first point of the set and shouts “Come on!” McEnroe says he loves seeing that type of intensity as from Federer on the first point but if I’m Murray I’m giggling to myself knowing that Federer feels the need to do that so early in the set.
Murray earns an immediate break point thanks to some fantastic returning but Murray slips to the ground as he tries to change direction. Between Djokovic and Murray sliding around everywhere, this has not been a good tournament for Adidas shoes. It’s like they spent all their R&D money on making sure tennis balls didn’t fly out of Murray’s shorts and forgot about, you know, traction.
Both players are making a push early in this set. Federer gets to 30-30 but his backhand slice return on Murray’s second serve is completely useless today. Murray steps into it and crushes it for a his 46th winner and eventually holds.
Federer holds at 15 and we’re on serve.
I'm stating the obvious but 1 break point in 16 service games is ominous for RF—
Paul McNamee (@PaulFMcNamee) January 25, 2013
6:05 a.m. ET | Murray wins the set 6-3, leads 2-1.
Federer serving to stay in the set and now he has to be wondering how he got down 2-5 so quickly after such a great surge to end the second set. But he took that tiebreak part because of his quality play and part because Murray choked. Put simply, he wasn’t in complete control of his destiny in that breaker. Now that Murray’s seemed to refocus Federer’s back to being outplayed. He holds.
Murray steps up to serve out the set and it’s a clean hold. Just like that it’s a 2-1 lead for the Brit as he pops his 16th ace. Impressive.
The Brit press can be guilty of juuuuuust a bit of hyperbole, but I don’t think they’re far off with this one:
5:57 a.m. ET | Murray leads 5-2.
Suddenly Federer drops into a 0-40 hole and he’s getting hot with umpire Enric Molina about a mid-rally ball that he thinks should have been overruled. Two points later he misses a lazy backhand down the line and Murray has the break.
"Show us your bagpipes!" shouts one wag, and Murray certainly does. At least he breaks serve. Federer flat after a good run, AM 6-4 6-7 4-2—
Piers Newbery (@piersnewbery) January 25, 2013
Good news for Murray: scoreline aside, this isn’t a Wimbledon redux for him. His serving stats remain sky high and he consolidates his break with a love hold.
Meanwhile, ESPN reminding us that it’s a long way to the top if we want to rock ‘n roll.
5:50 a.m. ET | Murray leads 3-2.
Federer holds and Murray’s starting to grab different body parts. He massages his quad after a grueling 20-plus shot rally that ends with him missing a forehand long. Now it feels like Murray’s just got to tread water and wait out this surge from Federer and get another kick of adrenaline. If you’re anything like me you have a severe case of whiplash right now.
Federer’s running Murray around, sensing he’s weak physically. He gets to 30-30 but misses a forehand to give Murray game point, which he converts.
Not surprisingly, Federer has brought his stat-sheet up after that second set, as he’s finally serving well (not great, but well), but again, if you’re just going off the stats Murray should be up two sets and a break by now.
Murray: 12 aces, 67 percent 1st serves in, 79 percent first serve wins, 64 percent second serve wins, 36 winners, and 28 unforced errors, for a +8 differential.
Federer: 4 aces, 66 percent 1st serves in, 73 percent first serve wins, 50 percent second serve wins, 24 winners, and 29 unforced errors, for a -5 differential.
5:42 a.m. ET | Murray leads 2-1.
I’m still reeling. I can’t believe we’re level after how well Murray has played over the last two hours. It’s all mental for Murray now. The big question is how well his forehand will hold up going forward. People will focus on the bonehead try at the overhead to give Federer set point, but that was four straight horrible forehands early in the tiebreak to fuel Federer’s fire.
Murray holds to start the third set.
He gets to 0-30 on Federer’s serve and earns a break point, but Federer saves it with a big “Come On!” and follows that with an ace. That was Murray’s first break point since the first set. Federer holds.
Murray is laughing at his box and shaking his head as he walks to the back of the court. He’s played a near-perfect match and has nothing to show for it. Has to stay positive. He holds at love. Still plugging away.
Rough set for Murray to lose. But Federer spent an awful lot of energy winning it. Interesting to see if he can maintain that intensity—
Simon Cambers (@scambers73) January 25, 2013
5:28 a.m. ET | Federer wins the tiebreak 7-5. One set all.
1-1: Murray gets the minibreak as Federer misses a forehand but gives it right back with a horrible forehand miss. Federer shoots him a look. It was that bad.
4-2: Another horrible forehand miss from Murray. Could he really be tightening up here? All that hard work for nothing? And another forehand miss from Murray. I haven’t seen so many chokey forehands since…well…ok, yesterday from Victoria Azarenka. Murray finally stops the run of four straight points with a service winner.
4-4: God save the Queen and God save Hawkeye. A Murray winner is called wide but Hawkeye reveals it’s in. Both men are smiling at that one. A backhand error from Federer and Murray’s won three straight points to level the tiebreak.
5-5: Good serve from Federer to move ahead followed by a great point from Murray that gets a backhand error long from Federer.
6-5: Set point for Federer when Murray gets too cute with an overhead he should have either put away or let go. The crowd is going nuts and Murray facepalms.
7-5: Federer closes it out and we’re now in a best of three shootout.
5:21 a.m. ET | Murray holds, 6-6.
Murray holds to love. Here we go: It’s tiebreak time.
5:15 a.m. ET | Federer leads 6-5.
Murray is serving to stay in the set. At 15-0 the two play a long grueling rally and Murray misses a backhand crosscourt by a few millimeters. I thought that point would take Murray’s legs out from under him for a few points but two points later they play another 15-plus shot rally that Murray wins by threading a backhand winner up the line. Federer’s clearly frustrated now. He couldn’t have hit the ball better in that game but Murray holds at 15.
Andrew Castle apologising for Federer's bad language. Never heard that before. Like hearing the Queen drop the F bomb—
Caroline Cheese (@CarolineCheese) January 25, 2013
Federer follows that with a love hold.
5:06 a.m. ET | Federer leads 5-4.
Darren Cahill says he’s never seen Murray serve this well in a match at a Slam for this amount of time. He holds at love and shows off his physicality at 40-love, sprinting all around the court until he nails a backhand crosscourt pass on a Federer drop shot. He’s giving away nothing, not even at 40-love.
Murray is slowly eliminating options for Federer. Federer keeps trying the drop shot and Murray’s just too quick. But Federer holds at 15 and even though he’s getting outplayed on almost every metric, he’s protecting his serve. If he can get this to a tiebreak anything can happen. We saw him against the ropes against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinal where he was outplayed during sets but stole two of them in tiebreaks.
In other words, this match could flip really quickly in the next 10 minutes.
5:00 a.m. ET | Federer leads 4-3.
An opening for Federer on Murray serve at 30-30 but Murray staves it off. Murray playing with absolutely no panic tonight, as evidenced by the great backhand slice approach shot he hits to get the backhand error from Federer. The Brit follows that up with an ace and holds.
POINT! What a great cat and mouse rally to start Federer’s service game that ends with both men at the net and Murray winning with a great reflex volley off the forehand side. That’s the rally of the match so far.
Federer holds at 30. Murray showing a few signs of frustration at not being able to get into Federer’s service games at the same rate as the first set. Now, now, Andy. Don’t get greedy.
4:52 a.m. ET | Federer leads 3-2.
Another easy hold for Murray and his serve sees no signs of weakness. He’s still only faced one game that went to deuce and Federer isn’t pressuring him at all. He’s still serving at 74 percent and averaging more MPHs than Federer on his serve.
On his own serve Federer’s working hard to keep Murray at bay. At 30-30 Federer wins a 15-shot rally and lets out a huge “ALLEZ!” when Murray misses a forehand. That’s a bit odd. Federer usually saves those shows of emotion for when the matches are tight. It’s only 2-2 in the second set. Shows you where his head is at right now. He feels the pressure. He eventually holds with his second ace of the set.
Still on serve.
4:43 a.m. ET | Federer leads 2-1.
Not a clean hold but a hold nonetheless for Federer, who has to withstand a coule of deuces to hold off Murray there.
Can Murray keep it up? That has to be what Roger is wondering. Murray had a similar start during last year’s Wimbledon final where he came out gangbusters only to have his first serve percentage drop as the match go on and let Federer back in.
Since the start of 2009, Federer has one comeback from losing the first set to a member of the Big Four (Murray at Wimbledon last year).—
Chris Skelton (@ChrisSkelton87) January 25, 2013
No problems so far for the Brit. He holds easily. Federer follows that up with a love to 15, firing his first ace of the match in the process.
Very strange stat fedfan winning 64 % on 1st servspoints and 61 on the 2nd thats a great # on 2nd poor on 1st—
Brad Gilbert (@bgtennisnation) January 25, 2013
4:30 a.m. ET | Murray wins the 1st set 6-4.
Love hold for Murray. He’s serving incredibly well. He’s at 70 percent for the set with four aces, no doublefaults and winning 84 percent of his first serve points. Federer is serving at 58 percent, no aces, and only winning 57 percent. He hasn’t found the rhythm on his first serve at all. But he holds and forces Murray to serve out the set.
Federer comes out of the changeover with a sprint, clearly trying to get himself going. But he doesn’t bother Murray at all. The No. 3 holds at 15 and takes the first set 6-4. If not for his 1 for 7 rate on break points, that could have been a beatdown set for Roger.
Murray: 5 aces, 16 winners, 16 UFE.
Federer: 0 aces, 6 winners, 9 UFE.
Murray has now won six of his last eight sets against Federer after winning just one of the previous eight.—
Bryan Armen Graham (@BryanAGraham) January 25, 2013
4:20 a.m. ET | Murray leads 4-3.
Another easy hold for Murray to go up 4-2.
Once again Federer is under pressure on his serve as Murray gets it to 0-30. Speedster Murray — who was compared to Usain Bolt by his trainer — hits a wonderful crosscourt forehand pass that Federer gets back, then sprints over to nail a backhand down the line passing shot. I don’t know about the Usain Bolt thing, but his trainer is right about Murray’s deceptive speed.
Murray earns break point again but Federer hangs on t0o hold. Murray’s now had break points in three of Federer’s four service games but has only broken once.
4:10 a.m. ET | Murray leads 3-2.
Oof. What a letdown from Murray. He builds a 40-love lead on his service game and then makes a rash of errors to give Federer a break point.
Boom. Ace. Saves it. Holds.
Federer finally gets a quick service game, holding to love.
3:58 a.m. ET | Murray breaks, leads 2-1.
The two trade early blows, with Murray crushing a clean forehand winner from the center of the court and Federer answering with some solid net play. But at 30-30 we get our first reminder that this match is nothing like any of the others we seen so far this tournament. A punishing 28 shot rally with both men trading groundstrokes finally ends with Federer sending an approach shot long. Murray’s earned his first break point of the match but Federer saves it and eventually holds with a sharp inside out forehand winner than only Federer can hit.
Murray holds easily at 15. ESPN focusing on the second serve return points for both men early as that’s been the indicator for almost all their matches. Murray once again gets into Federer’s service game, earning two break points after Federer tries to go backhand to backhand with him to no success. Sorry, Roger, that’s not a pattern you should get stuck in. Won’t end well.
Murray doesn’t convert those two but he finally breaks on his fourth break point of the game by pulling Federer to his backhand and then knocking a looping forehand cross court that Federer can only get his frame on. So far the most telling thing is how easily Murray is getting into the rallies on Federer’s serve. He’s returning very well. Hasn’t missed a return yet.
If that continues Federer’s in for a short night. He can’t get into 50-50 rallies with Murray on his own serve. Murray will win those more often than not.
Meanwhile, PseudoFed speaks:
Courtside tweetings: if it carries on like this I may do an Azarenka and go and have a meal and relaxing bath in a minute—
Not Roger Federer (@PseudoFed) January 25, 2013
3:41 a.m. ET | Warm-up
Both men take the court, with Murray in his black and yellow Adidas kit. Murray in his very intimidating Nike pinks. Murray wins the toss and opts to choose Federer’s side of the court. Federer will serve first.
It’s a cool and breezy night on Rod Laver Arena and ESPN says there’s a 30 percent chance of rain tonight which has to make Murray facepalm a bit. If the roof over Rod Laver Arena closes at any point in this match you have to give the edge to Federer. We saw what happened at Wimbledon last year after the two played a tight first two sets. The roof losed and Roger ran away with it.
I find this match incredibly difficult to call. So does the ESPN crew. Darren Cahill gives the slight edge to Federer while the odds-makers and Patrick McEnroe give it to Murray. Andre Agassi earlier today tipped Murray. It sounds cliche but these two match up so well that it really comes down to whichever guy executes better. “It’s matches like this that are the true measure of a man,” says the ESPN preview, which focuses on the Murray storyline. Does he really belongs in the same air as the game’s best? A win here and it’s harder to argue no.
The wind is with Federer as he begins to serve. Ready? Play.
Roger Federer and Andy Murray will meet in the semifinal at the Australian Open on Friday. The match is scheduled to begin at 3:30 a.m. ET (ESPN). The winner plays two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final.
Federer, the No. 2 seed and four-time winner, cruised through the first four rounds before needing five sets to eliminate seventh-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals. Murray, the No. 3 seed and two-time runner-up, has yet to drop a set while winning four matches against unseeded players and a fifth against No. 14 Gilles Simon.
Murray leads the head-to-head with Federer 10-9, but the Swiss is 3-0 at Grand Slam tournaments. All three of those clashes came in the finals, including Federer’s 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (11) victory against Murray at the 2010 Australian Open. The Scot, however, does boast one best-of-five win over Federer, a 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 thrashing in the gold-medal match at last year’s London Olympics.