World No. 1 Roger Federer turned back the clock on Friday at the Australian Open, looking his invincible best in thrashing Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 to gain his fifth career final at the Australian Open.
“In these matches you always have to deal with how your opponent plays — but sometimes they play exactly how you want,” said Federer, who committed only 13 unforced errors over three sets, and his victory was never in doubt, unlike his early struggles against Nikolay Davydenko in the quarerfinals. “I just think it’s easier with the top players if you get them in the first set. It’s nice going through like this.”
The win was also a bit of revenge for the Swiss, who lost to Tsonga in Montreal last year. The win advanced him to a record 22nd Slam final.
For the fatigued Tsonga it was difficult going after coming off two consecutive five-set wins.
“I was just a bit more tired after the first set,” said Tsonga, the Aussie Open runner-up two years ago. “And, yeah, it was tough to play against him today. He was really good, and that’s it…sometimes you play against him again and he play just unbelievable.”
A frustrated and emotional Federer broke down crying during his post-match speech to an appreciative Aussie crowd after losing last year’s five-set final against Rafael Nadal. After cruising past Tsonga, and with the Slam-less Andy Murray waiting for him in the final rather than Nadal, Federer was in a more jovial mood.
“I know he’d like to win the first [Slam title] for British tennis since what is it, 150,000 years?” Federer joked to the crowd after the match regarding Murray. “The poor guy who has to go through those moments over and over again…”
Murray’s best Slam effort was a runner-up at the US Open in 2008, last year reaching the semis at Wimbledon, losing in the quarters at the French, and the 4th round at the Aussie Open and the US Open. Federer by contrast is appearing in his 22nd Slam final in 27 Slams contested since he won his first major at Wimbledon in 2003.
It remains to be seen whether Federer’s confidence approach versus Murray is bravado meant to intimidate his opponent, or to cover nerves. Murray’s off-speed, flow-killing game style has given the Swiss problems through their 10 career meetings thus far.
Federer has won his last two matches against Murray in tight fashion, but lost to the Brit twice last year in Indian Wells and Doha. Murray leads the career head-to-head with Federer 6-4.
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