As Roger Federer once again begins a new season with another Grand Slam title under his belt, questions will be asked of fellow Australian Open finalist, Andy Murray and his lack of ability to take charge of the moments that can make or break a player’s career.
Over the course of Federer’s straight sets victory against Murray, both players produced the vast array of shots worthy of their respective rankings on the ATP tour.
During the opening two games of the first set, Federer was in complete control, hitting a backhand and forehand winner to break Murray’s serve to go up two nil.
The 22-year old, however, hit back with aplomb, breaking Federer’s serve immediately, thanks largely to his supreme court coverage.
Murray was able to get back into the set by playing brilliant counter-punching tennis , as the Briton produced a terrific backhand pass down the line and a clinical running forehand to get back on serve.
If the first four games had demonstrated anything, it was that Murray had the capabilities to get the better of Federer in a Grand Slam final.
The 2008 US Open runner-up clearly has all the shots needed to torment Federer from the baseline, while his movement on court is clearly unrivalled by anyone else besides the world No. 1.
Murray’s first serve has also become a real weapon of late, often generating speeds of up to 212 km.
Five games into the first set, however, revealed some telling truths about Murray’s inability to produce when it counts.
With the score level at 2-2, Murray was presented with two break point opportunities against the Federer serve, only to squander both and ended up losing the game.
Instead of coming to terms with his lost opportunity, Murray clearly let it get the best of him against an opponent who only needs one chance to establish a dominant position for the rest of the match.
And so after coming close to breaking Federer’s serve, Murray was broken the very next game and found himself down one set, with a foot already on the runner's up podium.
It then had later appeared that the world No. 4 put the major deficit behind, him by winning the first game of the second set comfortably.
However, the moment Federer was presented an opportunity to break, Murray’s game deserted him once again, as the Swiss maestro came up with some spectacular forehand winners to break early in the second set.
After attaining the break, Federer gained control, seemingly playing with the freedom that comes with winning so many Grand Slam titles.
Despite going up two sets to love, there was still enough life in Murray to suggest he had what it took to come back and end a 74-year Grand Slam drought for British tennis.
After finally displaying some long overdue resolve in a Grand Slam final, Murray managed to break Federer’s serve for a critical 4-2 lead in the third set.
The drastic momentum shift should have allowed a player of Murray’s calibre to serve the set out, which in turn would extend a final that had another Federer whitewash written all over it.
Despite playing down the huge pressure placed on him by the British press, Murray once again crumbled in the face of a unique opportunity that doesn’t often present itself.
During the tiebreaker, Murray failed to convert five set points in what must have been an agonising sight for British fans back home.
Rather than produce the tennis that has netted him 14 titles in a glittering career, Murray’s game had deserted him, in particular his forehand and second serve.
It was no surprise in the end that an unforced backhand error sealed Murray’s fate in an Australian Open that promised so much.
Whilst there is no doubting Murray has the game to be a great player, he clearly doesn’t produce it enough on the big moments to warrant a place in the history books, unlike his victorious opponent Roger Federer.
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