Federer puts a foot in the semis after Murray stroll
Originally published on: 23/11/10 17:24
Roger Federer saw off a surprisingly lacklustre Andy Murray in straight sets to put one foot into the last four at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
Only once has the Swiss failed to advance past the group stages at the prestigious year-end tournament – in Shanghai in 2008 – and a straightforward 6-4 6-2 victory over the world No.5 took him a step closer to ensuring that would remain the case for at least another year.
Federer was no less surprised than anyone else at the ease of his victory over the 23-year-old Brit, who had beaten him in both of their two previous meetings – in the Shanghai and Toronto finals.
“I’m almost a bit shocked to be honest,” he admitted on court immediately after Murray netted a forehand to hand over the 76-minute victory. “I’m surprised by how clean the match was.”
On his part, Murray offered little excuse, simply lamenting a slow start and an uncharacteristically limp service and return game throughout.
“I returned poorly, served poorly and against him, that’s not going to win you the match,” he conceded. “I probably served about 30% of first serves in. You’re not going to beat one of the top players serving like that.”
In fact, Murray made 44% of his first serves – still nothing special – but his estimation was more accurate to the stats from the first set that didn’t make for happy reading. In the opener, he made just 32% of first serves, winning just 67% of those, in comparison to Federer’s 91% won on 48% of first serves in.
With the Scot struggling to hold from the outset, Federer broke to love in the third game of the match. Murray, who began the tie in his white Lendl-style adidas shirt, switched to black immediately after losing the break, but it had no bearing on his fortunes as proceedings remained on serve until Federer closed out the first set.
The Swiss followed with an immediate break in the first game of the second set, capitalising on a fluffed Murray drop shot, and he moved a double break ahead after converting his third of six break point opportunities.
Murray, by contrast, managed none. It was a far cry from his assured display in his opening Group B match with Robin Soderling, but this, of course, was an entirely different challenge. Albeit one the Scot is usually far more visibly up for.
“It’s disappointing, but this was a completely different match,” Murray stressed. “It’s a lot easier to judge things when you’re sort of up against the same player from one week to the next. It’s a completely different playing Roger than playing Soderling. Different tactics.
“I just have to pick myself up for the next match and try and put myself in the semis.”
Federer, who could qualify for the final four tonight if David Ferrer beats Robin Soderling in their second Group B clash, admitted his surprise at the Scot’s performance, especially since Murray had held an 8-5 advantage in their 13 previous meetings.
“I don’t think he played his best match,” said the world No.2. “He came out and made some mistakes – maybe it was due to my good play.
“From my side I was obviously very happy. I played tough and solid from start to finish. That seemed to be enough today.”