Roger Federer with leave the Australian Open for the third straight year without a title. The 4-time champion lost a tough 5-set match to Andy Murray earlier today in the semifinals. Federer had never lost to Murray in three previous matches in Grand Slams, but tonight the 25-year-old from Scotland was just the better player from start to finish.
Federer has now gone three years without winning a hardcourt Grand Slam. And he’s lost to Murray the last two times in best-of-5 matches and he drops to 9-11 in their series.
Federer was also playing his second straight 5-set match for the first time in his career tonight after going the distance with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga a round earlier.
Here’s what Federer said in the post-match presser:
Q. Did you feel it pull away from you in the first couple games of the fifth set? Was that the turning point?
ROGER FEDERER: In a three and a half hour match, I don’t know if it’s the beginning of the fifth that was key, you know.
I think overall he probably created more chances than I did. I had difficulties finding you know, getting into his service games time and time again like I, you know, usually do against him.
I think he started off serving well, and then, I mean, fifth set, obviously he did well. I think he played a bit more aggressive because he did create more opportunities over and over again.
I think he was able to dig out of the first game I think it was a 30 All game and then break me the other way around, which was obviously not the start I was hoping for because I was feeling good, obviously, after winning the fourth.
Q. You spoke earlier in the week about the good manners that exist between the players. There definitely seemed to be a bit of feeling between the two of you after 6 5 in the fourth. Can you talk about that. Was there an exchange between you?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, it wasn’t a big deal anyway. We just looked at each other one time. That’s okay, I think, in a three and a half hour match. We were just checking each other out for bit.
No, I mean, that wasn’t a big deal for me. I hope not for him.
Q. Does it feel like one that got away or one that you were always chasing?
ROGER FEDERER: Obviously I was down in the score basically from the start. Definitely it was more of a chase, you know. I was able to level it a couple of times.
Yeah, I don’t know. Look, I think it was a tough match. I think I had my chances a little bit. Obviously you’re going to go through a five setter with some regrets, you know.
But overall, like I mentioned, I think Andy was a bit better than I was tonight. I had to find my range a little bit early on, and then, you know, adjust my game style as well, the way I was playing.
So he did a good job, you know, of getting me there. But, you know, I was hoping to do a bit better, but overall obviously I’m pretty pleased with the tournament. I played good tennis. I’m moving well and was fit in the ten sets I played, the last two matches.
I’m upbeat about the tournament, but obviously it’s disappointing, you know, going out in five. You know, it’s not the first time it’s happened here.
Q. Where does this leave you? Every generation goes to new levels. You have Andy and Novak at 25 hitting the ball harder. Where does this leave you now?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, nothing has changed. I’ve played these guys, what, 60 times, the three guys around me in the rankings. So we know each other really well. We play each other very close very often. Keep on trading wins and losses.
Novak has done probably the best job getting more wins than losses. That’s why he’s ranked where he is. I, you know, enjoy the matches with Rafa, Novak, and also Andy again tonight. It’s nice playing five sets against him. It was tough tennis. I enjoy that.
So I go from here with a good feeling for the year. I didn’t play a tournament leading in, so now obviously I know where my level is at. Also knowing I have even more time to work on my game, work on my fitness this year. It’s something I’m excited about.
Q. Where do you think Andy’s placed now in terms of Sunday night?
ROGER FEDERER: Obviously Novak goes in as the favorite, I would think, even though Andy beat him at the US Open.
But, I mean, maybe a day extra is going to make a difference. But it’s not back to back. He has a day. He’s had an easy run until the semis, until tonight. Maybe it’s something that Andy needed going into the finals.
But obviously Novak is the double defending champion here. I think so at least. He’s done really well again this tournament, digging himself out of the hole against Stan, coming and playing good tennis against Berdych and Ferrer.
So obviously a tough match again, and give a slight edge to Novak just because of the last couple of days.
Q. Do you think Andy has learned to deal with the setbacks when they come his way?
ROGER FEDERER: Maybe, you know. I think he’s always played me pretty well over the years. He’s obviously got a winning record against me. I mean, the matchup’s maybe a good one for him, I’m not sure. I don’t mind playing against him.
But it’s normal that with time and with age you learn, you become more experienced, become physically, you know, better.
Then obviously he’s put himself in that situation time and time again, you know. So obviously with the win I think at the Olympics and the US Open, maybe there’s just a little bit more belief or he’s a bit more calm overall.
You want to be excited, but you don’t want to go overly crazy, you know, each and every point. So it seems like he has more peace when he plays out there, and in the process he has better results, I guess.
Q. Would you say tonight was your level being a little bit down or was it Andy’s level being further up compared to other matches you played with him?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, it depends which ones you looked at. The one at the Olympic Games, this one was better. If you look at the ones I’ve beaten him, this one was lower. It really depends what you compare it against.
Like I mentioned, I think it was an open match for both players. We both played pretty good. I think we both at times could have played a little bit better.
Obviously it was a game of chess out there at times as well. You do neutralize each other a lot on these courts as well when you do hit it deep and hard. It’s hard to take a deep cut at the ball. So I thought it was a good match.
Q. How much did the match against Tsonga take out of you? How were you feeling coming in?
ROGER FEDERER: Uhm, a little bit, you know. But it’s not an excuse for me tonight to say that I lost because of that.
But obviously I wish I could have come in like Andy, as well. Then again, you know, he beat me fair and square tonight. No regrets from me.
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