At least that’s how Douglas Perry of The Oregonian feels:
No one ever talks about a Roger Federer-Andy Murray rivalry, and that's understandable. There isn't the clash of styles of Federer and Rafael Nadal—or the clash of personalities that long infused Federer-Novak Djokovic. Yet Federer and Murray have faced each other in the final round of three of the four majors (all won by Federer), as well as the final of the Olympics (Murray's first big triumph). They played a thrilling five-set semifinal in Melbourne last year, won by Murray, that somehow has fallen from our collective memory.
While Federer and Murray have played each other on bigger stages than the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, it is that nailbiter of a match they played Down Under last year that will hover over the next showdown.
Murray prevented a No. 1 versus No. 2 finals between Federer and Novak Djokovic by winning the semifinal showdown with Federer 6-4, 6-7, 6-3, 6-7, 6-2. It was a back-and-forth affair that saw two tiebreakers before Murray eventually outlasted Federer in the fifth set.
The easy narrative would be that the younger Murray had more energy as the match wore on in the Australian heat than the older Federer, but that would be ignoring the overall history in this underrated rivalry.
Murray actually beat Federer in six of the first eight head-to-head meetings, including his first win over Federer as a teenager when the all-time great Federer was at the peak of his powers in 2006. However, Federer has closed the gap in recent years and now only trails Murray 11 to nine in their showdowns.
It shows just how dedicated Federer is to his craft that he has narrowed the gap with Murray while gradually fading further from his historic prime.
As for this Australian Open, Federer has been dominant through the first four rounds. He has yet to lose a set and avenged his loss from last year’s French Open to No. 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in rather easy fashion.
Murray didn’t lose a set in his first three matches either, but he struggled somewhat in round four against the relatively unknown Stephane Robert. Of course, winning a match in four sets may not actually be struggling per se, but it is worth mentioning that Murray lost a set to the lowest-ranked remaining player at the Australian Open in the match before he will face Federer.
Federer has simply looked better thus far than Murray, Down Under, and he is coming off a momentum-building win against one of the best players in the world. Federer is playing with a newfound confidence and controlling matches with his forehand winners and timely serves.
Murray will bring his typical arsenal of shots to the match as a way of challenging Federer, but at this stage in his career, Federer is better equipped to handle it than the barrage of power from a Djokovic or Rafa Nadal.
Murray may have won the five-set thriller at last year’s Australian Open, but it will be Federer advancing this time around.
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