Tennis fans should be prepared for a stunning display in the Australian Open semifinal when No. 2 seed Roger Federer and No. 3 seed Andy Murray face off on Friday. They're two of the game's biggest stars, as Federer is a well-rounded and fluid player who can shine on any playing surface and Murray a strong defensive player who stars on hard courts.
But fans of Federer, an all-time legend of the game, would be wise to watch out for Murray, who carries a few advantages into the match. Besides an easier path to the semifinal, Murray may be one of the few players in the world who can stare Federer down in a high-attrition match and come out of it victorious.
Murray has had a dominant path through the tournament thus far, winning all 15 of his sets with relative ease. The closest he's come to a real challenge was in the third round, when he defeated Ricardas Berankis, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5. It was Murray's only seven-game set win of the tournament thus far.
As for Federer, he's coming off of a tough quarterfinal match with No. 7 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Federer eventually wore Tsonga down, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-3, but not without a fight; the Frenchman weathered the third-set tiebreaker and resisted Federer's pressure in the fourth set before eventually folding in the fifth. Tsonga broke Federer's serve for the first time in the entire tournament.
Murray, 25, holds a 10-9 advantage against Federer over their respective careers. While Federer has won all three Grand Slam meetings—the 2008 US Open, 2010 Australian Open and 2012 Wimbledon, all in the finals—Murray had the last laugh at last year's London Olympics, overpowering Federer, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4.
But beyond even that, perhaps Murray simply has more to prove. Federer has 17 Grand Slam titles, most of all time, while Murray has only one—last year's US Open.
Either way, the majority of oddsmakers have Murray as the clear favorite, with 4/6 his best available odds. Federer, meanwhile, is frequently quoted at 5/4 or 11/8.
With two of the game's biggest stars facing off in a Grand Slam match, anything can happen. Everything about their histories (and the odds) suggests that Friday's match will be one of the best of the tournament, if not the entire year. But whether top seed Novak Djokovic or No. 4 seed David Ferrer wins the other semifinal, chances are they can expect to face Murray for the Aussie Open title.
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