The Roger Federer resurgence continued Wednesday night at the Australian Open as the 32-year-old ousted Andy Murray 63, 64, 67(6), 63.
The victory moves Federer into his 11th straight Australian Open semifinal where he’ll face rival Rafael Nadal Friday night.
Federer came out ablaze rolling Murray in the first set. The Scot picked it up in the second then finally broke Federer when the Swiss tried to serve for the match at 5-4 but all but choked.
Federer then blew two matchpoints in the tiebreak from 6-4 allowing Murray to take the set. But in the fourth Federer regained control to win his 10th match over the reigning Wimbledon champion and gain revenge for a 5-set semifinal loss a year ago.
“In the first two sets I thought he played great tennis,” Murray said. “When he was serving for the match I felt like I raised my level because I had to basically, and obviously prolonged the match a bit further.
“He served extremely well. As much as I would have liked to have returned better, he served very well. Didn’t allow me to do that.”
After his win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and now Murray, the new partnership with Stefan Edberg is working well as is the new larger racquet which has added some pop on his serve and groundstrokes.
Federer though will have his hands full against Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard leads Roger 22-10 in their rivalry and Rafa’s won eight of 10 in Grand Slam play.
Federer spoke to the press about his big win over Murray, his thoughts on Nadal and how he was high-fiving wife Mirka during Stanislas Wawrinka’s win over Novak Djokovic.
Q. Did you get worried when you lost the third set after all the opportunities you had or were you feeling tired, angry with yourself?
ROGER FEDERER: No, I mean, it’s like one of those things where it would have been nice to close it out, it being that solid match that you played, you know.
The thing was not only that I served for it, but I had 6 4, 5 2 in the breaker. Maybe could have won on one of the points and then probably would have gotten it home for sure. There’s so many things I could have maybe done better. Maybe got slightly passive.
You sit down and you’re still in the lead. You don’t know if momentum is still on your side or on his side now. Only the next few games will decide that. So it was important to get the lead straightaway again.
I could sense that, you know, he was struggling shortly after that. But then again, you don’t know how serious is it. Is he just doing it now and he’s going to be okay later when it matters.
I’ve been in these positions before. For me it was just a matter of staying calm and forgetting about it a little bit because, you know, the match was great until that point when I couldn’t get it done really.
Q. Formulating the game plan is one thing, but executing it is another. Are you impressed with how you’ve been able to execute the last couple games?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, no, I’ve been feeling really well. Physically I know that I can do it. And then because I’m feeling good physically, then I can really think about tactics I want to play, how aggressive or how passive do you want to play. I have all these opportunities now.
I’ve been hitting the ball really well for some time now, so it’s just nice that it all came together in a big match against Murray like this.
Q. If there had been the odd subtle change in your game, it seemed you were able to turn defense into attack, reaching balls you may not have been able to reach a while ago. Is that your back feeling good and the racquet as well?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, the racquet’s not going to do the running for you. But I know what you mean (smiling).
I definitely think that’s what I used to do so well, you know, the transition game from defense to offense. I definitely sensed that today, you know, I am back physically. I’m explosive out there. I can get to balls. I’m not afraid to go for balls.
Of course, you know, last year at times you couldn’t do it, but important is that I can do it now. I’m looking forward to the next match.
It was a great game on many levels today, not just physically. Also just mentally it was tough. Then I really played some good tennis. I was very happy.
Q. How did you see the ball that you went in for? Murray had a long debate with the umpire about whether the ball was up.
ROGER FEDERER: A long debate is a bit extreme, exaggeration.
Q. For him it was pretty long.
ROGER FEDERER: Really? I’ve seen worse.
Honestly, I don’t know. I thought I probably got it, especially the way it bounced on the other side. It felt like I got under it. At that point I might even have my eyes closed. It’s like it’s so extreme that I really don’t know.
They showed it twice I thought on the replay. It looked good. I just told the umpire, How can they show this and create this controversial moment potentially? It’s not really what you want to do.
I hope it was played the right way. If it wasn’t, I’m sorry. But it’s an umpire’s call. I’ve been burnt by these calls before. I can’t remember the score, but clearly it was a big one. I think I ended up breaking him in the game.
I don’t know. We’ll have to check the replay time and time again.
Q. You have a new racquet, a new coach, a new level of fitness. Could you talk about how they all come together? It’s not a new Roger Federer, but is it energizing and invigorating for you.
ROGER FEDERER: It’s really a big pleasure for me being back in the semifinals. I think I’ve played semis here all the way since ’03 or ’04 maybe.
For me it’s an amazing result for me again to be in the semis. This one feels different because of the tougher times I’ve had in slams, Wimbledon, at the US Open. It’s nice to be back in the semis and defend my points from last year. Not that it matters at my age.
But it’s nice to play a nice tournament. Plus what I really love is another Swiss is in the semis as well. It’s the first time in history. So that’s a big deal. I was really happy for Stan last night, because he’s been putting in an amazing effort for the last years and didn’t always get compensated. That’s the big news for me.
I didn’t think about it all the time when I was playing, but it was definitely inspiring tennis by him last night.
For me, it’s as well a dream run, and I hope I can keep it up against Rafa.
Q. What would you say about the all Swiss final?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, the moment you start thinking about that we’re taking the same flight home. So, yeah, look, I’m worried about my match clearly, but I’ll definitely watch his first. Hopefully he can make it. Then he can put the pressure on me that way.
It’s a great problem to have. Geez, I mean, he played so well. Not just now against Novak, but he’s done it so well in this tournament. He won Chennai. Great season last year. He’s really also getting the respect he deserves in his country now and also on the tennis tour.
It’s nice seeing it turning around for him.
And for me, yeah, I hope I can make it to the finals. Clearly when you’re in the semis you start dreaming. There’s no doubt about that.
Q. When you’re watching Stan’s matches, are you just watching it quietly or do you find yourself occasionally coming out with a, C’mon?
ROGER FEDERER: How much can I say here? I don’t know. I’m not sitting there all quiet, no. At the end I was standing up, hands in the air like him. That’s what it was, you know.
When he wins big points, yeah, I guess you do fist pump. I high five with Mirka. So it was good fun last night. We watched the entire fifth set together. Before I was watching more by myself. It was amazing.
Q. Given Rafa has had a good record against you in recent years, especially in slams. Do you take any comfort in the fact that he is struggling a little bit with his left hand, which means he can’t serve quite as well as normal?
ROGER FEDERER: Then 210 bombs are coming my way again. Who knows. He’s been tough to play against, no doubt. I’m happy I get a chance to play him in a slam again. I don’t remember the last time we played.
The head to head record is in his favor. I’m looking forward to speaking to Stefan, because when we spoke together, you know, when he came to Dubai and we spoke about the game, we clearly spoke about playing Rafa, as well.
He thought he had some good ideas, so I’m looking forward to what he has to say. Clearly with Severin, he knows him inside out. I’m looking forward to hear what the boys have to say. We’ll prepare. I hope I can get a win. We’ll see.
Q. You said before that you’re physically back. Do you think you’re also mentally back? Tonight you had 17 breakpoints and you transformed only four. Why?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, the majority came in the fourth set, in the beginning. I think I was 1 1 and 1 1 in the first two sets.
Look, yeah, it was a great match. I’m happy. I don’t care about the breakpoints. I really don’t.
Q. After losing the third set, did you think he had the form to take you to five?
ROGER FEDERER: No, but you never know. I mean, when you go deep, past the three hour mark, past three and a half hours I don’t know how long we played you just don’t know. It’s a bit of the unknown sometimes. You go through phases where you feel better or worse.
I don’t know if he’s not feeling so well with his back or if he’s not feeling so well because he physically couldn’t train as much as he wanted to. It’s that unknown factor which is stressful. It’s difficult to handle. Plus I kept missing opportunities.
But I tried to stay calm. I’ve been in these positions before. I think I did well at the end. Would have been nice to get the early break and then hopefully serve and go up 3 Love on the first change of ends. That was a bit of a pity.
But I guess I know exactly what he’s going through, because that’s how I felt sometimes because you couldn’t work out sometimes. You get tired throughout the match. It’s just not a good feeling to have because you start doubting yourself and then things get tough.
Q. You mentioned age in a previous answer. Do you think people get too obsessed with your age and they don’t look at the player?
ROGER FEDERER: Not sure. You know, I don’t read everybody’s articles, honestly. I actually don’t read much at all so I don’t know exactly what’s being said. I just sense it when I’m being asked questions time and time again.
The whole retirement question started like in ’09. Here we are five years down the road and I’m getting asked less. So that’s a good thing.
Then I think it’s okay to talk about age because, yeah, I’m not 22. But most of the guys now are between 26, 7, 8 now and have a lot of miles in their body now. So I’m not the only guy.
Yeah, things don’t get easier. But at the same time they might become more enjoyable. Maybe I can play with less pressure. Maybe I just love it. I still love competition. Still feel maybe there’s something big around the corner.
You know, I’m just trying to find out and see if that’s the case. I do feel it is. But only time will tell if it’s possible or not.
Q. As somebody who has been an ambassador for the game for a long time and also on the Player Council, what do you think of the tournament not penalizing David Ferrer for shoving a linesperson during his quarterfinal?
ROGER FEDERER: I didn’t see it. Speak to him. Give him a timeout (smiling). No, I mean, who cares? It happens, you know.
Q. You mentioned about Murray. He thought you played particularly well in the first two sets. Are there one or two points you can identify in his performance that gave you the clue that he wasn’t fully recovered from the back operation?
ROGER FEDERER: I think in the beginning he played well. Physically he was fine. It seemed like, at least. Maybe at the end of the third only did I sense maybe for a second, but the problem was the scoreline was so difficult right then that you cannot focus on the guy’s body or how he’s feeling.
You’re playing point for point. Unfortunately I didn’t serve well when I had to. I sensed he might be struggling on some serves, but then again he did better when I thought he would struggle. It was one of those things.
Once the ball was in play he played quite aggressive. He actually played well. Then right off the bat in the fourth set I realized, you know, he’s not that fast maybe. Things are getting a bit difficult for him now. Not knowing if it was actually back or just fatigue because, like I said, maybe he couldn’t work out as much as he wanted to.
You started feeling that as the match went past three hours, all that. That’s when I started to feel it the most. In that Love 40 game at 1 0 in the fourth. That’s why it was so more disappointing not to take the opportunity there, because you don’t know if it’s like, Oh, maybe one game, then he’s like back to normal. You’re like, God, I can’t believe I missed that opportunity.
But he did struggle more or less throughout the fourth. But he was dangerous, you know.
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