Murray thrashes Federer to show who is master
Andy Murray started the first game of set one of the final of the Shanghai Rolex Masters by breaking Roger Federer's serve, and ended the last game of the second set by doing the same. In between, he managed to dictate the pace of play against a completely out of sorts Federer for a 6-3, 6-2 straight-sets victory last night.
The crispness of Federer's semi-final victory the day before over Novak Djokovic was nowhere to be seen, and when he found himself on the wrong end of a controversial call halfway through the second set, the gig was basically up. Murray broke Federer twice in the first set and twice in the second, making it back-to-back finals victories over Federer after beating him in the final of the Rogers Cup in Toronto in August.
' I enjoy playing him,' said Murray. 'I don't find it easy at all. It's incredibly difficult every time. But I love the challenge of playing against him. I don't fear playing him, but I know that I could lose the match easily if I don't play my best.
'I don't know if my game matches up well against his or not, but I've played some of my best tennis against Roger and I think that was true today.'
Although Federer was basically on his heels throughout after being broken in game one, any momentum he did manage to regain was negated by an umpire's call in game four of the second set. Down 1-2, Federer was on the verge of having his serve broken again by Murray when he hit a shot to the baseline that Murray missed, to go back to deuce. But a late line call against Federer incensed him and he challenged it on Hawkeye. The challenge showed the shot was in, and the umpire ruled a replay of the point instead of awarding it to Federer. Murray would eventually win the point and instead of being tied at 2-2, Federer was down 1-3.
The decidedly pro-Federer crowd became quite unruly when the normally stoic Swiss maestro continued to argue with the umpire over the replay. While order was eventually restored, the match was basically over.
'It was a classic bad mistake by the linesperson,' said an unrepentant Federer. 'Kind of one of those moments you don't want it to happen so you don't have to defend a breakpoint twice. That at the end is what cost me maybe the match potentially.'
Said Murray: 'If I was him, I would be annoyed, of course. But it has happened to me.'
For Federer the loss was a bitter disappointment. His form all week had been quite good in his first action back since losing in the semi-finals of the US Open, and it seemed as if the three-week rest had rejuvenated him.
Although he has been supplanted as the world No1 by Rafael Nadal, there was no question who the top player in China is. Federer was greeted warmly throughout the week, and when reports of him taking Putonghua lessons leaked out, the affection between him and the Chinese fans grew even deeper.
But at 29 years of age, Federer is proving that form can be fickle. And with the number of forced errors he made against Murray, it seems as if an element of panic could be seeping into his game against the largely younger top seeds. 'I had a good tournament, I thought I played well this week,' said Federer. 'I'm very happy with where my game is at.'
He may be happy with where it's at, but where it's going remains to be seen.