Andy Murray faces Roger Federer for the 20th time when they play in the Australian Open semi-finals tomorrow. The Northern Echo compares the two men
MURRAY is the only player left in the men’s singles not to have dropped a set and has spent considerably less time on court than any of his three remaining title rivals. The draw has certainly worked in the Scot’s favour, with Gilles Simon the only seeded player he has faced, and the Frenchman was far from his best.
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Murray was impressive in beating another Frenchman, Jeremy Chardy, in the quarter-finals, but Federer will be a huge step up in level. Murray is unbeaten so far in 2013 and has won his last 12 grand slam matches.
While Murray has coasted through the draw, Federer has negotiated a series of significant obstacles, including young guns Bernard Tomic and Milos Raonic and seventh seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals.
Federer had been imperious during the first four rounds but was pushed all the way to a fifth set by Tsonga before eventually prevailing.
MURRAY has a narrow lead in their head-to-head record having won ten of their previous 19 clashes. His most significant victory came in the Olympic gold medal match in August when the home favourite handed Federer his worst ever beating on grass, with Murray losing only seven games in three sets on Wimbledon’s Centre Court. It was the first time he had come out on top in a best-of-five-sets meeting and came four weeks after he lost to Federer in the Wimbledon final.
It was the third time they had met in a grand slam final and the first time Murray had won a set.
Federer won their most recent match, in the semi-finals of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London in November.
MURRAY has often frustrated Federer with his ability to mix up his shots. However, on the big stages it has normally been the Swiss who has come out on top and, while Federer may not be the force he once was, his highest level is still above anyone else’s in the game.
He drops from those heights more often than he used to and his forehand breaks down more frequently, although his backhand has improved throughout his career. Federer is also a little slower than he once was and can be vulnerable when pulled out wide on his forehand.
Murray has improved since he began working with Ivan Lendl just over a year ago. His forehand has extra juice and is now a big weapon, and his second serve, while not a strength, has an added kick and is no longer the weakness it once was.