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Glorious Federer notches up sixteenth slam in Oz

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Originally published on: 10/03/10 15:54

Roger Federer stormed to a masterful 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(11) victory over Britain’s Andy Murray to secure a 16th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.

Federer outclassed the world No.4 with a phenomenal display to reaffirm his status as the King of tennis and prolong Murray’s search (and Britain’s 74-year hunt) for a major title.

There must be something in the Melbourne air that provokes tears, for Murray – just like a defeated Federer in the 2009 final – fell an unlikely victim to the waterworks in the aftermath of his defeat. “I can cry like Roger, it’s just a shame I can’t play like him,” the emotional Scot managed before watching Federer lift his fourth Melbourne crown.

Federer once again proved a deserving champion, finding a response to everything the 22-year-old Scot (appearing in his second Grand Slam final) could throw at him. But despite his straight sets victory, Federer assured the defeated finalist and the onlooking Rod Laver Crowd that his time would come.

Turning to Murray, Federer said: “Well done for your tournament, you played incredible. You’re too good of a player not to win a grand slam.”

To the action, and mastering the opening set in style, Federer broke Murray’s opening service game with consummate ease. Though the Scot immediately broke back, come the seventh game, Federer wielded the axe for a second time.

Penning Murray into a corner, Federer set about artfully constructing an opportunity for a second break at 0-30, and the world No.1 polished off his latest mini-masterpiece by firing a sublime backhand pass down the line.

With three opportunities to break, Federer converted at the first attempt, bossing the Scot back and forth at the baseline. Dragging Murray back down the same line he had beaten him on the point previously, the classy Swiss followed up by drilling an unreachable forehand back across the open court to leave the world No.4 sprawling.

Murray’s attempts to hold off Federer’s charge through the first set proved unsuccessful, and the tone of the match was set when Murray – forced wide of the court on the backhand side – had a chance to replicate his glorious ‘between-net-post-and-umpire’s-chair’ shot that lit up his semi-final tie with Marin Cilic.

There would be no lion roar on this occasion; the Scot failed to bypass either obstacle, and could only find the net tape as Federer took the opening set 6-3.

If he’d found top gear in the first set, the Swiss Maestro motored into overdrive in the second.

With a sixteenth Grand Slam title lying in wait, the prize-hungry 28-year-old was imperious, playing the kind of tennis that more than justified his long-held status as an active legend of the game.

Murray was not overawed; simply outclassed, as Federer broke his serve for a third time in the match in game three of the second set. Murray had to hold off a second break two games later, digging deep in a mammoth service game to reverse a 0-40 deficit and keep the margin to a solitary break.

There it stayed, as Federer mixed superhuman groundstrokes with effortlessly pinpoint serves to move into an ultimately unassailable two sets to love lead.

While Murray toiled to find his footing, Federer’s excellence wavered as the Scot managed to break in game six of the third set.

Both players found themselves at the net after Murray raced to scoop up a Federer drop shot, and in the ensuing volleyed exchange – more befitting the men’s doubles final than the showpiece singles – the Scot emerged triumphant, slashing away a whipped forehand volley beyond the reach of the 28-year-old.

But just when Murray had the third set at his fingertips, Federer once again broke back to force a tie break.

A thrilling breaker ensued. Murray notched up five set points, but the World No.1 refused to back down. The Scot will rue missed opportunities in a set he really should have won, and after a 24-point tiebreak, Federer converted his third championship point to triumph 13-11 and clinch a 16th Grand Slam title.

Federer remains the master. Murray’s hunt for a major prize continues. The question reigns still…

Just what will it take to beat this guy?

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