Andy Murray, widely tipped to end Britain’s 73-year Grand Slam drought this year, beat Roger Federer in the Qatar Open semi-finals on Friday for his fourth win in five matches against the Swiss superstar.
The 21-year-old’s stunning 6-7 (6/8), 6-2, 6-2 victory carried him into the final of the Doha event where he is the defending champion and where he was to face Andy Roddick last night.
His win on Friday came just a week after he had also defeated 13-time Grand Slam title winner Federer in the exhibition event in Abu Dhabi. Murray once again showed that he can contain the brilliant fluency of Federer off the ground, and also has the weapons to maneuver for flaws in the great man’s armory, especially on the backhand side.
He also returned superbly, so that Federer’s smooth delivery deteriorated as the match wore on. Murray’s serve, the most improved part of his game along with his mental strength, was not broken all match. The most remarkable thing was that Federer was showing signs of disappointment in his body language well before the end and appeared to have lost hope in the final game.
“He doesn’t let too many things get to him. But when I have watched him play Rafael Nadal I have seen he can get frustrated because he is so used to winning,” said Murray. who knocked out world No. 1 one Nadal in Thursday’s quarter-finals. “It can be difficult sometimes, and he obviously had his chances in the second set. When I managed to break him I saw that he was frustrated. It was not that surprising.”
‘SHOT AT no. 1’
Federer said that Murray had been a serious rival for at least a year now and agreed that he “had a shot” at becoming No. 1.
“If he carries on the way he is he will have a shot,” Federer said. “Things change very quickly. But I hope if he were to become No. 1 he would win a Slam — not like the women’s side. No disrespect to Jelena Jankovic, but it took Rafa five Grand Slams to become No. 1.”
Murray was unlucky with a line call at 6-6 in the first set tie-break, which was shown by Hawkeye to be incorrect and happened at a moment when he appeared about to reach set point.
He appeared still to be annoyed when he started the second set, and had to come from love-40 in the third game to save his service. After that he quickly broke for 4-2 and never looked like he could drop his own delivery. When he broke for 3-1 in the final set, it already appeared all over for Federer, who appeared to lose heart near the end.
There was also some suspicion that he had been annoyed by some of the spectators, though when asked he said: “It’s nothing I want to talk about now.”
Murray later complained of a back problem that needed treatment in the final set.
“If I wake up and it’s agony I won’t play the final, but if it’s like it was today I will,” he said.
Murray has a 5-2 career record over Roddick, who earlier reached his first final since September, when he carved a fine win in a high quality match against Gael Monfils. The former world No. 1 from the US also showed signs of evolving into a more measured and varied player during his 7-6 (7/1), 3-6, 6-3 win over the brilliant Frenchman.
‘STAY THE COURSE’
“There wasn’t a whole lot between us — I just stayed the course,” Roddick said. “I concentrated pretty well in the third set. It was just a matter of winning the points at the right time.”