Monday, February 1, 2010

Men's Singles Final - Day 14

Roger Federer     6     6     7(13)
Andy Murray       3     4     6(11)

The mountainous differences between the two finalists was a glaring advantage to the Swiss in this men's singles final. 15 Grand Slams to Murray's none. It was just Murray's second appearance in a Grand Slam final while Federer was experiencing his 22nd such final. Did anyone really ever think that Murray could overcome all this experience in his opponent's favour? We remember the recent US Open final where Del Potro did just that to upset the great man in five sets. And Murray had been in great form in his six matches en route to the final, sweeping aside his challengers, although each one bar Cilic was of questionable talent and ability.

Federer had a tricky first round encounter with Igor Andreev, but improved with each match, completely annhiliating Lleyton Hewitt, Nikolay Davydenko and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga with superb tennis.

The pair of them exchanged early breaks before Federer broke decisively in the 8th game to serve out the set.

In the second set, Murray's serve was collapsing under 74 years of pressure for a British Grand Slam winner. His serve was broken early in the set and he was forced to save numerous break points as the Swiss waited for the kill. Federer's serve in contrast, was working like clockwork. A rocket forehand, two aces and an easy volley in the eighth game took just 59 seconds. He soon held serve once again to take a two sets lead. At this moment, Murray's fragile chances of winning narrowed even further.

Murray was far too predictable with the bulk of his passing shots going to the Federer backhand. Murray had identified that as Federer's weaker side, yet it proved to be the shot which time and again opened up the court for the Swiss master to win point after point. And Murray was rattled. There was no Plan B whatsoever from the Scot's racquet. The problem with Murray is that there is no special shot in his armoury which can continually hurt an opponent. His serve breaks down when under pressure, so does his rallying ability for which he is famed.

The third set went well for Murray as he burst into a 5-2 lead, breaking Federer as he was serving at 2-3, and holding to get himself one game away from the set. But it was in his next service game where it all went wrong. Federer was going to win this championship, and he wasn't even allowing the Scot a single set to enjoy. Federer produced the most brilliant cross-court return winner which flashed past the advancing Murray in a blur to set up break point. Murray managed to reach deuce, but Federer conjured up a wonderful clipped backhand pass on the stretch after hanging on to the point by the skin of his teeth, only for Murray to net the volley at his feet. Another Murray effort went into the net and Federer was back in the set, and soon it was a tiebreak.

The following 24 points were as tense as you could get with set points and championship points being saved with gutsy tennis. But it was Murray who was tiring, his footwork becoming laboured and heavy. Meanwhile, Federer was gliding like a gazelle around the blue asphalt. Murray passed up no less than five set points in the tiebreaker, most notably a simple forehand at 6-5 with Federer out of the court, only to hear the dreaded sound of the bottom of the tape rip his final hopes of a comeback apart. The pressure was too much and a simple forehand became a burden too great to bear.

At 9-8 to Murray we witnessed one of the most incredible rallies as both players scrapped for the point, hitting the lines both left and right, spectators' hands covering their mouths in one gasp after another. It finally ended with a Murray lob wide. Federer then came up with an astonishingly sublime drop volley to set up a second championship point. Murray then raced for another drop shot and passed the ball delicately up the line. Federer left it but it agonisingly dropped inside the baseline.

10-10 became 11-11. Federer produced a magnificent forehand winner wrong-footing an absolutely shattered Murray, and on his 3rd championship point, Murray netted a tired backhand and it was all over. Federer came up with the magic when needed. He just doesn't feel the pressure. He had Murray, six years his junior, all over the court and by the end the poor Scot had been run ragged and was shattered.

Another absolute master class from the super tactician, physical specimen, astounding magician and King of tennis. It is his first Grand Slam as a father, and based on this form, there will be many more to come. And Andy Murray may just have to wait several more years for his turn to lift a big trophy. Because as long as the daddy is ruling, the tears will keep flowing for Murray.

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