Roger Federer says Andy Murray's tears fitting of a future champion
Published Date: 01 February 2010
By Alix Ramsay
OF ALL the aspects of Andy Murray's performance in the Australian Open final that will be mulled over, dissected and deconstructed, Roger Federer believes that it was the Scot's tears that were the most important.
"That showed me how much he cares," Federer said to the Swiss reporters. "It shows how much the grand slams mean to him and how much he wants it. That was good to see."
What was also good for the Swiss to see was Murray's final backhand sinking into the net at the end of the third set tiebreak. Before the match, Murray had claimed that Federer, for all his records and trophies, had become vulnerable in five set finals. He is a fantastic front runner, but if the match goes the distance, Federer has started to look frail in the fifth set. He ran out of ideas against Rafael Nadal in the Melbourne final last year and did the same against Juan Martin Del Potro at the US Open last September. So when Federer hesitated in the tiebreak and let a stunning Murray winner fly by him on his second match point, he was worried.
As Federer explained: "I choose to drop shot, which had been working very well and wondered: to take it, don't take it, and it was too late. After that drop shot, I thought 'oh my God, I'm going to see myself in the fifth set, not winning the title' so it was great coming out of that breaker."
It showed just how close Murray is to winning his first grand slam trophy. Federer – who, despite yesterday's victory, still has a losing record against the Scot – is sure that Murray will win, and win soon.
"He's a wonderful mover, tactician, great backhand," Federer said. "He has got everything you need to beat the best and to win big tournaments. You know, sometimes it just doesn't happen when you want. Sometimes it all of a sudden happens without you knowing that it did."
The trouble is that Murray has been waiting to win a major for years. He has worked himself into the ground to become fitter and stronger, he has added new dimensions to his game to find ways to beat the men at the top. Every part of his life is geared to winning one of the titles that matter and he is impatient to prove that he can do it.
"I'm hungry to win one," he said. "I have been since I was 16, 17 years old when I started playing the junior Grand Slams. I realised then that I wanted to win one of them.
"I worked really, really hard to try to do it and give myself the opportunity. So far it's not been good enough. But I'm sure that one day it will be. When it comes, maybe because of the two losses, it will be even better.
"I'm obviously very disappointed, but I think I'm getting closer and I'm playing better. I just spoke with my mum just now about this: to have the opportunity to play in these tournaments, in these matches, is pretty incredible in the grand scheme of things. Obviously I'm getting closer – my results in the grand slams would show that. I've just got to keep working hard. Getting to a second slam final, you know, it's a great achievement. So I've got to be proud of that."
He also had good cause to feel proud of his performance. He had chances in the first set, knows where he went wrong in the second and almost took the third. By the third set tiebreaker both he and Federer were playing out of their skins.
"I didn't serve well in the first set but I served pretty well after that," Murray said. "I thought it was a high-standard match. The second set I just wasn't particularly happy with but the rest was pretty good. Obviously I need to improve, and try and make my game better for these situations."
In defeat Murray has gained confidence, after being beaten in straight sets by Federer in the 2008 US Open final.
"Tonight's match was a lot closer than the one at Flushing Meadows," the Scot added. "I had chances at the end of the match. It's just the second set that didn't go my way, not that any of them went my way, but obviously I felt like I had opportunities in the rest of them."
For Federer, his 16th grand slam trophy – and his first as a father – made him proud and happy.
However, the world No1 knows that Murray is improving and he is closing in on victory at a grand slam, be it Wimbledon, the US Open or back in Melbourne next year.
"His game is so good that I'm convinced he will win one," Federer said. "And I thought he did really well tonight because conditions were tough. I mean, I think I played a great match. So someone's got to win, and I'm happy it was me."
Happy, but not half as happy as Murray will be when he finally gets his hands on a grand slam trophy.