Roger Federer's renaissance moves on with yet another big win for the Wimbledon runner-up. He defeated Andy Murray, 6-3, 7-5, at the Western & Southern Open Friday night in Cincinnati, Ohio.
With the victory, Federer tied up their head-to-head record at 11 wins apiece. More importantly, he built some nice momentum going into the 2014 US Open. Even if he doesn't advance past the semifinal, beating a player of Murray's caliber right before the Grand Slam is bound to be a confidence booster.
Murray, on the other hand, will be looking at himself in the mirror and wondering what in the world is going on with him at the moment. He hasn't advanced past the quarterfinal of any tournament since the French Open.
Looking back on Friday's quarterfinal, here's a brief breakdown on how it affects the future of each star.
Federer has found the fountain of youth. Nothing else can explain how he's turned back the hands of time and definitively become one of the best players in the world again.
The 33-year-old has been in that class of top stars forever now, but for the past few years, it looked like a distance was growing between him and the trio of Murray, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. That doesn't look to be the case anymore.
Tennis commentator David Law walked away astounded with how much different Federer looks between 2013 and 2014:
Federer looks like a completely different player to this time a year ago. Where will it lead? Who cares. Just enjoy watching him.— DavidLaw (@DavidLawTennis) August 16, 2014
Devang Desai of The Score was particularly impressed with Fed's serve against Murray. He won 71 percent of his first-service points and 52 percent of his second-service points:
Federer's serve is so damn good these days. He's 33! #Goat— Devang Desai (@DesaiDevang) August 16, 2014
When Federer advanced to the final of Wimbledon, you could understand why some critics were hesitant to really get behind the idea that the 17-time Grand Slam winner was making a major comeback. The All England Club is almost a second home for him, so one great tournament doesn't make a career resurgence.
However, that argument is kind of hard to ignore now. Sure there was the loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Toronto, but Federer has responded with a straight-set victory over Murray, doing so after back-to-back three-setters against Vasek Pospisil and Gael Monfils.
There's no question that Federer benefited from a lot of silly errors by Murray, but he could've easily packed it in after going down 4-1 and started planning ahead for the third set. Instead, he maintained his composure, kept at it and closed out the second set.
Looking ahead to the US Open, Federer has to be considered the second favorite behind Djokovic at the moment. As Busted Racket's Stephanie Myles wrote, Nadal's status remains in flux, leaving the door open for the Swiss.
Oh, Andy. Where do you even begin with his performance on Friday night? He didn't have the match wrapped up by any stretch of the imagination, but he should've easily pushed it to a third set.
Instead, he loses six of the last seven games. It was like Murray decided tonight was the night to reinforce every single negative opinion about his game and mental strength.
The 27-year-old acknowledged before the match that closing was an area in which he needed to improve, per Sports Illustrated Tennis:
Before the tournament Murray said he needed to stop messing up matches when he got the lead. Messed up that 2nd set. Errors aplenty.— SI Tennis (@SI_Tennis) August 16, 2014
How did that work out for him?
Murray spoke about his collapse, per SI's Courtney Nguyen:
I was doing some things fine the middle part of the first set and obviously the beginning of the second set I was doing some things well, and then after that I didn't feel like I did many things well for the next sort of six or seven games. It's fine to have periods like that when you're young and first coming on the tour, but one or two games max should be really when you let your level drop a little bit, and then you need to be able to find it again; I didn't do that.
You hate to ascribe too much importance to one match alone, especially one that isn't in a Grand Slam tournament. Perhaps I'm guilty of that here, but it seems like a worrying sign that Murray would have this kind of loss so close to the US Open, coupled with his somewhat poor tournament results in previous weeks.
The fact that he talked about his inability to hold a lead illustrates that Friday wasn't an anomaly.
Even the best athletes in the world have crises of confidence. Murray could be experiencing some kind of temporary mental hurdle that makes him stumble near the finish line.
Despite this loss, he should be considered one of the top contenders in Flushing Meadows, New York. He won the US Open in 2012 and has advanced to the semifinals in 2011 and quarterfinals in 2013. Historically, he plays very well on hard court.
All it takes is a few good matches for everybody to forget about all of this craziness.
Note: All stats are courtesy of ATPWorldTour.com unless otherwise noted.