Australian Open – Day 11+12 (SF)
2nd semifinal: Friday
(3)Andy Murray d. (2)Roger Federer 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-2 [4:00 h] *
Very important victory for Murray from psychological point of view on different levels; most of all he has beaten Federer at a major for the first time on fourth attempt, moreover it’s his first win with two tie-break drops, and the first time he prevails despite losing a 4th set tie-break (previously won all 8 tie-breaks he’d played while leading 2-1 in sets). The start of the semifinal could be tricky for Murray because he appeared for the first time in night session this year (he had been complaining on it a bit) whereas Federer found himself fifth straight round under these circumstances. The Scot hadn’t any problems to adapt under floodlights though, and got his first break as early as in the 3rd game on fifth break point. Surprised me that Federer was serving much more below his abilities from the beginning (Murray out-aced him 21-5, holding quite easily all service games until the 4th set), perhaps he was afraid of Murray’s aggressive returns on second serves. The Swiss managed to hang in there with help of tie-breaks, that part of the game he knows better than anyone in tennis history as far as only singles is concerned. In the first tie-break at 5-all Murray tried to nail an overhead a la Pete Sampras‘ slum dunk style, but hit the ball with the top of his frame, and Federer passed him after a slow bounce with his backhand. The second tie-break was less interesting, however, that set was the most entertaining that evening: Federer finally broke his opponent, led 4:1*, at 4:3 for him (adv. Murray) there was confusion due to linesman’s call ‘out’ and immediate ‘correction’. The Scot instead of replying the point chose ‘challenge’, lost it, the point as well, and was challenge-less. Yet the unfortunate argument with Enric Molina didn’t distract him, he broke Federer second time in that set in the 11th game, and serving for the win led 30/15. At that moment Federer showed his masterclass, won a point with a clever-into the body-overhead, followed up by a backhand down the line, and made a solid BH-return after Murray’s service bomb which blindsided the Scot forcing his casual error. Federer caught the momentum, grabbed 10 out of 12 consecutive points in total, and improved his tie-break record against the Scot to seven to one. Murray stepped onto a new mental ground then, he’d never lost two tie-breaks in a 5-set match before, it’s always tough situation when you have won much more points than your rival (150-135 for Murray after four sets), but you are at two sets apiece, especially if that rival is named ‘Federer’. Murray confirmed he is very well prepared both, physically and mentally, held easily four service games, and broke the Swiss twice, to ’30’ & ’15’ respectively, after the last point he reacted without any gesture of enjoyment, like he wanted to say: “I should have wrapped up this victory in 4 sets, it’s an accident it lasted 30 minutes longer”. No doubt Murray is fully aware of being close to reach No. 1 this season, he has won the last two biggest events (Olympics, US Open) defeating on both occasions world’s best player Djokovic. “It was a tough match,” said Murray. “There was a lot of ups and downs. So it was good to come back after the way I lost the fourth set. I thought I did a good job tonight… I am just happy with the way I responded after [losing] both those sets.” Federer gave credit to Murray: “He beat me fair and square tonight. No regrets from me. I think Andy was a bit better than I was tonight. I think overall he probably created more chances than I did. I had difficulties getting into his service games time and time again.” Because youngsters (guys born 1990-92) are relatively weak, whilst the Swiss is constantly in a great shape, I expect he’s going to reach major quarterfinals on a regular basis until 2016. If he still enjoys travelling, he shouldn’t drop outside the Top 10 until 2018 or 2019 – it’s a time when should emerge today’s teenagers that are totally unknown to the broader audience. Stats of the match
5-setters: 21-17 Federer, 14-6 Murray
# 5-setters between ‘Big 4’ guys, beside parenthesis their 5th set Open era ranking by %:
4-1 Djokovic (Federer 2-0, Nadal 1-0, Murray 1-1)… 6.
4-3 Nadal (Djokovic 0-1, Federer 3-2, Murray 1-0)… 7.
2-2 Murray (Djokovic 1-1, Federer 1-0, Nadal 0-1)… 13.
2-6 Federer (Djokovic 0-2, Nadal 2-3, Murray 0-1)… 96.
* Murray’s coach, Ivan Lendl won one of his many major semifinals with almost identical scoreline, Wimbledon ’86 d. Slobodan Zivojinovic 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-7(1), 6-4.
1st semifinal: Thursday
(1)Novak Djokovic d. (4)David Ferrer 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 [1:29 h]
D’Joke’s clinical performance, fantastic display of the whole-court coverage and shot-making of all sorts. The Serbian hero was so good that even his coach (Marian Vajda), usually reserved in showing emotions, laughed when his pupil manufactured 1 out of 30 winners (Ferrer 11) to get a first point at 2:0 in the 3rd set with a blistering forehand down the line around the post. The helpless Pics didn’t even show anger throughout – he knew that against Djokovic in that form, he couldn’t do anything. The Spaniard experienced such a severe beat-down in the last year’s Roland Garros semifinal against Nadal, the scoreline was identical, yet the Parisian encounter lasted 17 minutes longer. Djokovic, like Mats Wilander (1983-85) and Ivan Lendl (1989-91), advances to the third straight Australian Open final. He analyzed: “I played incredible tennis. Felt very comfortable & very confident from start. It’s not easy at this stage in semis of a Slam. You need to focus on every point. I didn’t want to give him any points.” Ferrer admitted: “I am trying to do my best very much but I know they are better than me. What can I do?” He has lost all five major semifinals to ‘the better players’ (3 – Djokovic, 1 – Murray & Nadal) #. Djokovic was so relaxed that shortly afterwards returned on court imitating a doctor during a legend-doubles match: Goran Ivanisevic/Pat Cash d. Guy Forget/Henri Leconte 7-6 2-6 [10-7]. By the way, those guys born in the 60s are physically shadows of themselves when they were professionals, which is rather sad, maybe even sadder than the outcome of the first semifinal…
# Multiple Grand Slam semifinalists never to reach a final:
6 – Tim Henman (Wimbledon 1998, 99, 01, 02; Roland Garros 2004; US Open 2004)
5 – David Ferrer (Australian Open 2011, 13; Roland Garros 2012, US Open 2017 & 12)
4 – Sebastien Grosjean (Australian Open 2001; Roland Garros 2001; Wimbledon 2003, 04)
4 – Nikolay Davydenko (Roland Garros 2005, 07; US Open 2006, 07)
4 – Tommy Haas (Australian Open 1999, 02, 07; Wimbledon 2009)
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