Rodger Federer's straight-sets win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga set up the marquee matchup of the Australian Open quarterfinals. He will meet Andy Murray who ended Stephane Robert's Cinderella run in the round of 16.
Murray and Federer are no strangers, of course, having met on 20 previous occasions. Murray leads their head-to-head matchups 11-9. He has also won three of the last four meetings.
Their last matchup came in last year's Australian Open semifinal. Murray won that one in five sets, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-2.
Both players have been playing well to reach this point. Federer has not lost a set to this point, while Murray has dropped just one.
Coming into the tournament, there were questions on how Murray would play coming back from injury. He has looked great up to this point and his back does not appear to be giving him any trouble.
Here is what Murray had to say after his victory over Robert, according to the LTA:
I dominated 95% of the match, and for 15 minutes didn't close the match out. But I still created chances, even when I wasn't playing so well at the end of the third set. And then the fourth set was fairly comfortable.
Both Players on the Upcoming Match
Here is what Federer said on his upcoming match against Murray from his round of 16 post-match interview:
This is a big test for me. I don't need Murray to have a further test. The draw is a very testing draw. I know it's tough. It's not easy for anybody right now at this stage of the tournament, because you don't want to have any hiccups right now. I hope I can continue playing at a high level.
Here is Murray on Federer a few years ago versus today from his post-match interview against Robert:
I mean, it was ridiculous, you know, his record across all of the slams and on the regular tour. I mean, you could count them on your hand how many matches he was losing during the year.
I'd say the last couple years he's lost a little bit more. I think last year you could see at periods he was struggling with his back. And if he's fully fit, I've said all along, he's always going to be there or thereabouts in the majors, and he'll give himself opportunities to win more because he's that good...
So whether my tactics are great or not, I need to play a great match to win.
Who Will Win this Quarterfinal Matchup?
In order for Federer to come out on top, he will need to make a high percentage of first serves. Murray is one of the best returners in the world and will feast on second serves. In their last meeting Federer only won 43% of his second serve points.
He will also need to keep up his aggressive mentality. Federer does not want to get into long rallies with Murray. He needs to attack the net like he did against Tsonga. He came to the net 41 times and won 34 of those points.
Federer also needs to play a clean match. He has had more winners than errors in every match thus far, and will need to keep that up to beat Murray.
Murray needs to be aggressive whenever he gets a look at a second serve. He did this very successfully against Federer last year. In his other matches, Murray has won at least 50 percent of second serve return points.
Murray needs to be focused from the start. He has yet to play a high quality opponent like Federer and can not come out flat. Murray cannot afford a mental lapse like he had against Robert in the fourth set.
The biggest key for Murray will be converting on break points. If he returns like he is capable of he will have the break opportunities. He has converted 47 percent of break points so far in the tournament. If he can do that, Federer will have a tough time winning this one.
Federer may have more past Grand Slam success, but recently Murray has been at the top of his game at the slams. He has made it to four of the last five finals (excluding 2013 Roland Garros, missed due to injury).
On the other hand, Federer has made just one slam final in the past two years. He has not made a hard-court slam final since he won here in 2012.
In contrast, Murray has made it to the finals in two of the last three hard-court slams. Murray has also had the upper hand in three of their last four matchups.
I expect this to be another great match between these two great champions. With more recent Grand Slam success, I am giving Andy Murray the slight edge.
Murray in five
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