The Build Up
It is showtime. Roger Federer and Andy Murray will be squaring off against each other at the Rod Laver Arena—one of the biggest theatres for tennis—for the Australian Open Championship.
The stage is set for the final, and I mean this literally for I cannot find a Slam since Wimbledon ‘08 that had a better lead up to its final.
Both players are equally fit and without any nagging injuries, they are in red-hot form, and have had enough rest (after Federer’s quick drubbing over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga effectively ruled out any advantage that Murray had with an extra day off).
Conditions aside, both have enough shared history between them. Roger thinks that the match is always on his racket while playing the Scot; Andy thinks that Federer ought to respect him more since he is probably the only player apart from Rafael Nadal to boast a winning head-to-head record against the Swiss (6-4 all-time).
If anything, this match will set the record straight for one of these players—“I told you so.”
This piece argues in favor of the Swiss Maestro, while antiMatter shares his thoughts on the Scottish Sensation.
Roger Federer Wins If...
Federer will be a great teacher on lessons about how to peak during a major, and his semifinal performance after a lackluster week (by his lofty standards) will be enough proof of the same.
The one thing that stood out in those 88 minutes was Federer’s movement. It was the best I had seen him move since his blitzkrieg in Cincinnati last year.
He will have to rely a lot on his movement against a man who lives and dies by making his opponent dance, in Federer’s case, irritate.
But if their last two meetings at Cincinnati and London were any indications, Federer has found the right balance between surviving the rallies and being an aggressor. If he continues to do that, he will easily dominate the Scot.
But it will be of utmost importance for Federer to win that opening set. He is one of the best front runners in the game and holds a staggering 171 wins out 176 matches when he won the first set.
Expect Federer to come out all guns blazing in the final, something similar to what he did against Murray in New York.
Roger Federer Loses If...
At six months over 28, Federer is not exactly the same player he was three years ago. He hits his troughs and peaks during the same tournament, and sometimes during the same match!
It was not fatal against both Andreev and Nikolay Davydenko, but Murray comes with a different mindset than the two Russians, and he will seriously come back to him as soon as he senses that the level has dropped.
His match against Marin Cilic is a great example.
Apart from the consistency, it is really hard to argue against what Federer usually says about the match being on his racket while facing Murray.
The night court at the Laver Arena will cool down the temperature, and the colder and slower conditions will favor Murray.
Federer’s experience at a Slam, his survival and stamina over five long sets, and the stamina required to win will be a huge advantage for Federer.
Technicalities do not matter with prediction, and this is no different. But I have go with Federer’s experience of playing 20 more major finals than Murray to prevail over the raw enthusiasm and heavy burden of carrying a nation’s hopes.
An epic five-set match will be awesome, but Federer might just need only four to finish of his first Grand Slam victory as a parent.