I find betting against Roger Federer to be a terrifying endeavor. Every time I do I look over his body of work, break out into a cold sweat and consider changing my selection. A player as talented as Federer can mess with your mind, man.
But when he faces Andy Murray at the Australian Open semifinals, I simply don't think he'll win. I'm not going to write some dramatic "passing of the torch" article—I think it's safe to say Murray has entered the elite realm, and Federer won't be leaving it anytime soon—but I can't shake the feeling that Murray will best him.
It could be the fact that Murray has yet to drop a set in this tournament. Sure, he hasn't played a Top 10 player yet, but still—for the first five rounds, Murray has cruised.
When you add in the fact Murray has won his only other tournament of the year, the Brisbane Open, you can't help but think this is a player who has entered 2013 at the top of his game.
Meanwhile, Federer had to scrape, claw and fight to get past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, beating him in an exciting five-set match.
Winning is all that matters, of course, and Federer hasn't had an easy draw by any stretch, but he hasn't been at his best. Against a player like Murray, that could seriously cost him.
Remember, Murray actually leads the all-time series between the two players, 10-9. While Federer went 3-2 against Murray in 2012, Murray is 9-8 in matches between the two on hard courts.
I know, I know, too close to call. But that's the point—in a rivalry that has been so competitive and even over the years, the player who comes in on the hotter streak has an advantage.
And Murray has a lot of confidence. He's playing aggressive. He's become a more wily player, and he's mentally tough enough to survive the long rallies and grueling, five-set matches that generally come down to which player either wants it more or can keep his form as the body starts to tire.
Last year, we saw Murray take a step into elite status. I think he's out to prove that wasn't a fluke.
Federer will put up a fight. He's the best player in history for a reason. But against Murray, I don't think he'll be able to pull out the win.
I may be in a cold sweat predicting that, but I'm sticking with it.
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