Roger Federer’s 2011 season is one he would like to forget. He won only one title, no Grand Slam events and his ranking dropped to No. 4 in the world.
The six—time Wimbledon champ has not a season this bad since 2003.
Djokovic is having one of the best seasons ever played by a male tennis player and is arguably the best player in the world.
Andy Murray however, despite having consolidated his position as a top four player for quite some time, still has a lot to prove to himself and to his fans.
Rankings, numbers and statistics are enough to describe greatness, but should not be the only means used to compare players.
This article is an attempt to mix numbers, technical issues and intangibles to explain why Roger Federer is still a better player than Andy Murray despite having lost the No. 3 rank to the Brit.
The service and the forehand are the two most important weapons in modern tennis.
The importance of the serve was truly described by the great John Newcombe, who said: “A player is only as good as his second serve.”
Federer is 2nd best among all active players winning 64% of his 2nd service points. Andy Murray is only the 52nd best in the category.
Other key service stats, according to the ATP, also give the edge to the Swiss over the Brit:
1st serve percentage: Federer—64% against Murray—59%
1st serve points won: Federer—78% against Murray—75%
Service games won: Federer—89% against Murray—80%
As mentioned in the previous slide, the service and the forehand are the two most important weapons in the sport these days.
Roger’s aggressive style of play suits modern tennis better than the counter-punch approach to the game that Murray has.
The forehand of the Swiss is the trademark of his aggressiveness and is how he finishes most of his points.
The great John McEnroe once called Federer’s forehand “the greatest shot in our sport.”
Federer is an all-court, all-round player. Although primarily a base-liner, he can also play well at the net and performs greatly on any surface.
Murray is not as complete and doesn’t volley as well as Federer.
Jimmy Connors had this to say about it: “In an era of specialists, you're either a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist, or a hard court specialist...or you're Roger Federer”.
Winning percentages on different surfaces, according to the ATP, show the superiority of the Swiss over the Brit:
Hard: Federer—82% against Murray—77%
Clay: Federer—76% against Murray—59%
Grass: Federer—87% against Murray—80%
Absolute numbers would mean nothing as the Swiss has had a much longer career.
However the match record percentage, according to the ATP, says it all about how Federer outperforms Murray:
Overall: Federer—81% against Murray—75%
Grand Slam: Federer—87% against Murray—76%
Masters 1000: Federer—76% against Murray—71%
Both players have different approaches to winning points.
Federer is more aggressive, more objective and seeks to end points quickly.
Andy Murray likes to work the ball around and plays more of a “cat and mouse” style.
This makes huge difference in tough, brutal five set matches played along two weeks in a Grand Slam event and can be the difference between winning a title and losing it.
Roger is the record holder of Grand Slam titles, with 16.
The Swiss has played in 23 Grand Slam finals and won 70% of them.
The two players met in two Grand Slam finals and Federer won both.
Andy Murray has played in three Grand Slam finals and has yet to win a set.
Although it is said that Federer had a bad temper when he was a junior player, he really grew to be a mentally balanced professional, who basically never loses his cool on the court and shows no emotions to his opponents.
The Swiss’s achievement of 23 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals is the best illustration of his metal toughness.
Andy Murray is known for losing his temper, lashing out at his team on the stands during matches and going into losing streaks that are inconsistent with his level of play.
Roger is one of the most accomplished players in history. Despite his losing record against Rafael Nadal, only good things will be remembered about him after his retirement.
This should make him play more loosely next year, focusing on the few goals he still have and he will use this in his favor.
Murray is under all kinds of different pressures. The two greatest ones are: Being the first Brit to win Wimbledon since 1936, and winning his first Grand Slam title.
He has cracked under pressure before and things will only get tougher.
Coaching is important in tennis at any level.
Federer decided to seek the help of Paul Annacone, even after becoming one of the most accomplished players in history, showing his commitment to always getting better.
Andy Murray has not been working with a formal coach for quite some time and this is one move that could and should take him to the next level.
Both players are stubborn when it comes to coaching, but Roger was humble enough and decided to be wiser.
Perhaps only John McEnroe can be compared to Roger Federer in terms of talent, in the history of tennis.
Playing tennis is a walk in the park to the Swiss and this is the main reason for his longevity.
The effortlessly way he plays should keep him injury free and on the top of the game for some more time.
Furthermore, technically nobody plays tennis like Roger Federer.