The Federer Express is not slowing down. Roger Federer may not be winning Grand Slam titles like he use to but he’s winning just about everything else. Federer today won a record fifth Dubai title and 72nd overall in his career by upending a hot-handed Andy Murray 7-5, 6-4.
I had picked Murray going into the match for a variety of reasons: Murray led the head-to-head, he just thoroughly whipped Novak Djokovic, he’s been playing great tennis, it wasn’t a Grand Slam match and outdoors Federer’s had a tough go of it the last year against the top players plus this week Roger beat a bunch of his pigeons.
But all credit to Federer who today put together a near flawless performance to get back on top of a guy in Murray who had beaten him in straight sets the last two times they had met in outdoor finals.
Aided by the slick court, Federer once again served well, though he did get broken for the first time all tournament in the second set, and I thought he did a excellent job returning serve as well as attacking Murray.
“The match was close I think in both sets,” said Federer who didn’t lose a set all week. “I just gave myself more opportunities than Andy did overall. I felt really good out there tonight. I felt calm knowing what I wanted to do. I think the surface, I used it to my advantage, which in the last year’s final I couldn’t or didn’t. I think that was a big thing tonight as well.”
Murray clawed his way to get the break back and level things, but just when it looked like he could make a match of it he just couldn’t hold on. Federer got the break back to go up 5-4 and that was that.
“I think second set he played better than me,” said Murray who drops to 14-2 on the year. “For sure I made a few too many mistakes in the second, and he was playing a lot more aggressive than in the first set. But overall it was a good week. It was perfect preparation for the stretch over in America. Got through very tough matches against top, top players, so it was good.”
I also felt that because of Federer’s aggressiveness Murray couldn’t get shake out of a defensive posture. And that hurt him.
For Murray, this has to be a letdown after big scalp yesterday over Djokovic. Murray had the upperhand in this rivalry and today he let that slip, and now the next time he plays Federer it will be that much tougher, especially in a Slam. It just has to ding his confidence every so slightly.
As for Federer, now in his elder years all Roger’s done is win title after title. Two already this season and three to finish 2011 gives him a eye-popping five since hitting 30 back in August.
“It’s great. There is no substitute to confidence,” said Federer. “I played a great tournament in Rotterdam. The end of last year was exceptional, so it’s nice to also win a tournament outdoors now. That gives me hope that I can carry it over to Indian Wells and Miami.”
And it’s worth repeating. Maybe no player in the history of tennis puts tough losses behind him like Federer. Since losing that devastating Davis Cup match to John Isner, instead of sulking Federer has won two straight titles beating Del Potro twice and now Murray.
You just have to applaud that.
Still, it’s going to be a long climb for Federer to get back to the No. 1 ranking. To do it he’ll have to beat Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Murray (again) and win multiple Majors just have any chance.
Dubai and Rotterdam are great starting points but the bigger prizes await.
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