Federer must be at his best to stop Murray

DARREN WALTON
Last updated 17:40 24/01/2013

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Roger Federer will carry a decided grand slam edge into Friday night's Australian Open semi-final with Andy Murray but knows he must be at the very top of his game to stop the now Great Scot.

Federer has denied Murray in all three previous grand slam meetings - in finals in Melbourne, London and New York - but Murray is an altogether different beast since thrashing the Swiss master in last year's Olympic final and then breaking his major duck at Flushing Meadows.

And so he has proven this campaign in sauntering into the Open's last four without dropping a set.

"I'm expecting a tough match, of course," Federer said after outlasting Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a five-set quarter-final cliffhanger.

"But I always enjoyed the match-ups with him because it gets to be very tactical. Wasn't a straightforward match.

"He would make you doubt and play very different to the rest of the guys. I kind of always enjoyed that, when it's just not every point's the same.

"We used to mix it up against each other. Now it's changed a bit because he's playing more offensive.

"The rallies aren't as long and gruelling as they used to be. We both can do that."

As such, Federer dismissed the notion that his sapping match against Tsonga may have fatigued him, though he did concede Murray would likely be the fresher.

"I would probably rather be in his shoes," Federer said.

"But there's also some positives to take out of a five-set match. I did play very well, but I had moments as well where I could've done a bit better.

"I toughed it out. That also gives you confidence when you have to go through those matches.

"The physical stamina was there, the focus was there til the very end. So it does give you a lot of confidence moving forward from here.

"I didn't play any leading-up tournaments, so that's exactly maybe what I needed for the semis.

"Then again, I may be totally wrong. Time will tell."

Murray, whose last defeat came against Federer in the semi-finals of the World Tour Finals in November, was equally unconcerned about the possibility of being underdone heading into their 20th showdown.

"I played a lot of tennis in December. I had some good matches in Brisbane," he said.

"So, I mean, I can't be disappointed about being in the semis of a slam without dropping a set. That would be silly."

With such little between them - Murray leads 10-9 head-to-head - both players were drawing confidence from wherever they could.

"I very often have come up with some great playing against him in the slams when it mattered," said Federer ahead of what will be his 10th successive semi-final in Melbourne - and record 33rd grand slam semi of his career.

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"But we'll see if I can produce it again ... I don't go into it with a mindset that I've never lost to him in slams.

"He's beaten me so many times. He's beaten me more times than I've beaten him.

"But .. good vibe. I'll try to remember that when I walk out."

With a record always seemingly in his sights, Federer is bidding for an unprecedented fifth men's Open crown and also trying to reach an unmatched six finals at Melbourne Park.

 

THE CRUCIAL NUMBERS FOR ROGER FEDERER'S AUSTRALIAN OPEN SEMI-FINAL WITH ANDY MURRAY (PREFIX DENOTES SEEDING):

3-ANDY MURRAY (SCO) leads 2-ROGER FEDERER (SUI) 10-9

Federer 3-0 in grand slam meetings

2012 World Tour Finals, London, hard, SF, Federer 7-6 (7-5) 6-2
2012 Shanghai, hard, SF, Murray 6-4 6-4
2012 London Olympics, grass, F, Murray 6-2 6-1 6-4
2012 Wimbledon, grass, F, Federer 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4
2012 Dubai, hard, F, Federer 7-5 6-4
2010 World Tour Finals, London, hard, RR, Federer 6-4 6-2
2010 Shanghai, hard, F, Murray 6-3 6-2
2010 Toronto, hard, F, Murray 7-5 7-5
2010 Australian Open, hard, F, Federer 6-3 6-4 7-6 (13-11)
2009 World Tour Finals, London, hard, RR, Federer 3-6 6-3 6-1
2009 Cincinnati, hard, SF, Federer 6-2 7-6 (10-8)
2009 Indian Wells, hard, SF, Murray 6-3 4-6 6-1
2009 Doha, hard, SF, Murray 6-7 (6-8) 6-2 6-2
2008 Shanghai, hard, RR, Murray 4-6 7-6 (7-3) 7-5
2008 Madrid, hard, SF, Murray 3-6 6-3 7-5
2008 US Open, hard, F, Federer 6-2 7-5 6-2
2008 Dubai, hard, R32, Murray 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 6-4
2006 Cincinnati, hard, R32, Murray 7-5 6-4
2005 Bangkok, hard, F, Federer 6-3 7-5

ROGER FEDERER (SUI)

Age: 31
Ranking: 2
Plays: right-handed
Career prize money: $US76,014,777 ($A72.41 million)
Career titles: 76
Grand slam titles: 17 (Australian Open 2004, 2006-07, 2010; French Open 2009; Wimbledon 2003-07, 2009, 2012; US Open 2004-2008)
Australian Open win-loss record: 68-9
Best Australian Open performances: champion 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010

ANDY MURRAY (SCO)

Age: 25
Ranking: 3
Plays: right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Career prize money: $US24,934,421 ($A23.75 million)
Career titles: 25
Grand slam titles: 1 (US Open 2012)
Australian Open win-loss record: 28-7
Best Australian Open performances: finalist 2010, 2011

- AAP

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