Federer crushes Andy Murray’s slam dream
Roger Federer demonstrated why he is the greatest player to have ever graced a tennis court with a sublime performance to win the Australian Open at the expense of Andy Murray.
The Swiss claimed his 16th grand slam title with a 6-3, 6-4 7-6 (13-11) victory in two hours and 41 minutes.
Andy is Dandy but Federer is Betterer read a prophetic banner in the crowd. There just aren’t enough adjectives in the thesaurus to describe the man. It’s incredible to think that this time last year many critics were writing Federer off and questioning whether he could break Sampras’ record. Now they’re questioning how much more history he can make.
Today the tears were flowing down Murray’s cheeks, but he didn’t have the consoling arm of Rafael Nadal to comfort him, or the knowledge that he had many more grand slam titles already in the bag.
“I can cry like Roger, it’s a shame I can’t play like him,” an emotional Murray said in his speech after the match. “Thank you for your support. I loved every minute of it, and hopefully one time I can come back and win here.”
To the fans back home he chokingly said: “Sorry I couldn’t do it for you tonight.”
Federer took everything out of Murray in the match, physically and mentally, and that’s giving credit to the Swiss man rather than criticising the Scot.
In the build up to the match, Federer dealt some pre-prize fight trash talk, insisting that the pressure was firmly on Murray as he went for his first grand slam title against, as Federer modestly put it, him.
Then the sparring began. Murray caught his opponent off guard in the first game, putting him under pressure on his serve, but Federer steadied himself and delivered a return blow by breaking Murray immediately.
Stunned but not knocked out, the Scot hit back with three passing shots winners, swooping in with a forehand volley to get himself on the scoreboard. Murray continued to jab at the Federer serve but the Swiss deftly deflected his attacking moves with typically aggressive and resilient play.
Midway through the first set, Federer hit his stride and from then on delivered blow after blow to a winded Murray. The world number one produced an incredible backhand angle followed up by a down-the-line winner to create break point and swept to a 5-3 lead which quickly became a one-set advantage.
Round two and Federer struck another decisive blow early. The master had arrived to deliver a lesson in devastating pace, accuracy, defence, attack and sheer magic. Time and again Murray found his back against the ropes but managed to duck and weave his way out of Federer’s clutches, saving two break points at 1-3 and a further four at 2-4.
But in the mean time Federer was holding serve comfortably and barely allowing Murray to get a play on the ball. The game’s greatest player looked untroubled as he converted a two-set lead. He didn’t look like he could miss.
The only way Murray was going to make inroads on the match was if Federer’s level dipped. It did ever so slightly at the beginning of the third set and the Scot pounced on his opportunity, converting his third of three break points in the sixth game.
But Murray was unable to serve out for the set and it came down to an extremely tense tiebreak. Murray created a set point in the breaker but netted a forehand and a fourth chance to take the match into a fourth slipped away with a missed backhand volley.
The Scot will probably replay those shots during some sleepless nights over the coming weeks, but it is hard to tell just how much the pressure that his opponent put him under throughout the match influenced his errors.
Federer had been hitting winners from all angles and the accuracy Murray required to stay on top of the point, let alone win it, must have been a factor in the misses. Despite these continual blows, the Scot fought off two championship points, one with a deft backhand pass down the line off a Federer drop shot, but the third was too far. A netted backhand saw Murray’s dreams of grand slam glory slip away for a second time.
“Andy, well done for an incredible tournament, said Federer after the match. “You’re too good a player not to win a grand slam so don’t worry about it.”
He is right, but with the heavyweight unwilling to give up his belt, it is going to be extremely difficult for Murray – and anyone else for the matter – to claim the place in the history books they deserve.