Murray Force-Fed Defeat Down Under

In front of a packed Rod Laver Arena and a helpless Andy Murray, Roger

Federer produced a stunning performance in the Australian Open final to

take his 16th Grand Slam title. Despite losing two Grand Slam finals last

year, Federer proved any doubters wrong by beating the Scot in straight

sets with relative ease.

Federer began the tournament losing a set against Russian Igor Andreev in

a tough match which he declared he was lucky to win. Thereafter he reached

the final in stylish fashion, losing only one more set, beating the likes

of home favourite Lleyton Hewitt, in form Nikolay Davydenko and

semi-finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who achieved his best Grand Slam

performance. Federer has been accused of being below his best recently,

even though he has failed to reach a Grand Slam final only once since

Wimbledon 2006. However during this time, he has lost his number 1 crown,

broke down in tears after this same final a year ago and smashed his

racket in anger in Miami. Since that moment, things have definitely

improved; he has regained the top spot in the rankings, won 3 out of 4

Grand Slams since and more importantly he has brought back his composure

and natural game and has even improved it.

Murray has also been improving over the past few years, reaching the

quarter-finals 5 times since Wimbledon 2008. His presence on court has

been increasing over this time as he has worked solidly on his fitness and

his serve. He may not have the raw technique of Federer or the physique of

Nadal, but he is improving at an impressive rate which has been recognised

terms of rankings, reaching a peak of number 2. Murray’s route to the

quarter-final was straight forward, not losing a set despite a small blip

against American seed John Isner. Murray met reigning champion Rafael

Nadal in the quarter-finals for what was the best match. In a fiercely

fought and very tense contest between the two which literally contained

fireworks (admittedly due to “Australia Day” and not to the fantastic

display of tennis), it ended disappointingly in retirement for Nadal due

to his ongoing knee injury. His semi-final opponent Marin Cilic, who had

already played 22 sets in the tournament so far. Exhaustion eventually

showed and Murray took advantage by winning in four sets to reach his

second Grand Slam final.

In the final, Murray came out with a point to prove even if the crowd was

in favour of Federer. An early prospect of an upset was short lived and

after an exchange of breaks, it was then Federer who took control despite

a large amount of unforced errors from both players. In the second set,

Federer showed clearly what makes him the best player in the world with

every winner hitting a different corner of the court in such an effortless

manner. The third set gave Murray a glimmer of hope after going a break

ahead, but Federer remained composed to get level at 6-6. The marathon

tiebreak was probably the most exciting part of the entire tournament,

where the momentum often changed from Murray’s set point to Federer’s

championship point. Federer, as he had done for the past two weeks, came

out on top, winning 13-11. Even if Murray had been able to take one of 6

set points he had had, his fatigue showed and would have only won some

pride in winning that one set. He showed what he had put into the

tournament through the tears during his prize giving speech, admitting “I

can cry like Roger, it’s a shame I can’t play like him.” Federer resisted

the urge to well up again and dedicated the win to his newborn daughters.

The only question now being asked about Federer is whether he can win all

four majors this year, so all eyes will be on Nadal and Federer when we

reach Roland Garros. Whether Murray can win a Grand Slam is not the

relevant question anymore; he has reached two finals and has ended up

losing to one of the best players of all time, which isn’t so bad. Nadal

said Murray will win a Grand Slam and Federer admits “the question is just

when.” More is the question whether he can win whilst Roger Federer is at

the fore, or must he wait until the Swiss supremo is out of the frame and

the field becomes level again.


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