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Fearless Murray masters Federer

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Originally published on: 18/10/10 09:34

“I don’t fear playing him,” said Andy Murray yesterday after dismantling Roger Federer 6-3 6-2 in the final of the Shanghai Rolex Masters. “Every time I go on [court against him], I know I need to play great tennis to win.”

He did exactly that against Federer, who still rises back to No.2 in the rankings after beating Novak Djokovic in the last four but simply had no answer to the Scot’s combination of excellent defensive play and sublime winners.

The win was the world No.4’s second successive victory over the Swiss, having defeated him in a tighter Toronto Masters final in August, and Murray now increases his record over the 16-time Grand Slam champion to 8-5.

Though he has never beaten Federer in a Grand Slam – and lost in heartbreaking fashion in the New York and Melbourne finals – Murray has dug out a series of impressive performances against the imperious Swiss and confesses to relishing every opportunity to face Federer.

“I enjoy playing him,” said the 23-year-old. “I don’t find it easy at all. It’s incredibly difficult every time. But I love the challenge of playing against him.”

Federer, who was looking to claim a record-equalling 18 Masters Series titles, failed to find his best, but conceded that this was largely down to Murray.

“I thought he played well overall,” said Federer. “He didn’t give me much. I was missing a few too many shots, which I wish I hadn’t because that could have definitely maybe swung momentum around.”

The result proves a timely confidence boost for Murray, especially with the ATP World Tour Finals just around the corner, and the Scot will be happy to put his US Open defeat to Stanislas Warwinka – followed by his surprise loss to Ivan Ljubicic in Beijing two weeks ago – firmly behind him.

En route to the Shanghai title – where he claimed impressive straight sets victories over Jeremy Chardy, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Juan Monaco before beating Federer – Murray secured his place in the eight-strong field at the season-ending showpiece in London. 

“It’s great having now qualified for the Finals and it’s amazing I get to play in front of a home crowd again,” said the 16-time singles titlist, adding; “It was such a good atmosphere there last year.”

And although defending the Valencia crown is next on the Scot’s agenda, it’s the end-of-season event that will truly be on Murray’s mind, given that he fell agonisingly short of qualifying from his round robin group last year.

A defeat to Federer was undoing in London last year, and it cost him dearly in Greenwich in 2009, but with his fluctuating confidence back at its peak, who’s to say a fearless Murray can’t end a rollercoaster 2010 on a high?

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