Move aside Rafa and enter Andy Murray, who seems to have taken up the job of haunting Federer more seriously these days.
There are not many players who enjoy a positive statistical record against the Swiss and maintain it, but Murray has managed to do it convincingly so far.
It's common knowledge that out the last seven times these two have met, Murray has got the better of Federer five times. Barring last year's US Open and 2005 Thailand Open finals, Federer has been made to bite the dust.
Federer fans, myself included would like to keep in mind that most of the above matches have entered into a decider tie- breaker set. He gets the first set and then, just like that lets the match slip through his fingers!
This would probably be the most nagging and front running thought in everyone's mind.
According to Federer, who didn't win any ATP Masters title last year and found himself slipping below his own standards, he says that he feels he has come through past Murray in the big games and he is looking forward to continue the same at Indian Wells.
The fact that Federer is playing after suitable rest and break post the Australian Open and is playing well, if not great should provide some solace and affirm his statement.
At the same time as we discuss this, we need to consider that Murray is one opponent who can never be underestimated. Of the 20 matches he has played so far, his win/loss record stands at 19/1. His form has improved and till now he has earned two titles this year.
Federer needs to chalk out a clear cut game plan to outwit Murray tomorrow and it would serve the purpose well if he manages to wrap up the match in straight sets; a third considering the past happenings invariably ends up in Murray's favour.
He needs to get more of his first serves in and control over his faults and unforced errors [it's easier said than done], but he has to work more on these two aspects.
Unlike Verdasco and Gonzalez, Murray won't be too generous with him to take away the match.
As a Federer fan, I know how hard it is to swallow his defeat when he reaches so far and loses it.
I want him to win tomorrow, as desperately as I would want myself to score a distinction in my exams, in spite of knowing very well that the difference between school/college exams and a semifinal match is as huge as the pacific ocean and the lake in my neighbourhood.
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