Andy Murray produced a performance of total mental and physical dominance today to outplay and out-think Roger Federer 6-4 6-4 in the semi-final of the Shanghai Rolex Masters.
A match of, at times, quite blistering fare began with an electrifying service break from the Scot, locking up Federer in his backhand corner, firing winners at will and giving the 15,000 largely pro-Federer crowd something to chew on other than Chow Mein and their next stadium tour of Old Trafford.
The Swiss struck back immediately with some aggressive play of his own, but this was Murray’s day. His stunning return of serve off both wings, often in the shape of outright winners, had Federer quaking like a Persian kitten in Battersea Dogs’ Home. It resulted in a (probably) unprecedented three consecutive double faults, to hand Murray his second break at 2-2.Read more (200 words)
With Federer winning just 18% of points on his second serve, Murray’s blistering groundshot returns and beefy first serve - behind which he won 87% of the points - sealed the first set.
An epic game edged by Federer at the start of the second was punctuated by around half a dozen raindrops and the Swiss man’s desperate attempt to convert the contest into an indoor match. The rain abated but there was no let-up from Murray, who scorched three eyeblink forehand winners past the top seed to break for 3-2.
The relentless pounding on return of serve continued until 5-4 when, with the Scot patiently waiting to serve for the match, the rain intervened once again. The players trooped off for half an hour, the roof petals elaborately came together and thoughts turned to Federer’s indomitable indoor record.
But the Swiss wasn’t allowed to bring it to bear. Murray served out to 15 and shook hands on a consummate performance that surely sets the seal on the new world order in men’s tennis. In tomorrow’s final, the Scot faces Novak Djokovic, the other factor in that exciting premise, as the Serb looks for sweet revenge following his US Open final demise.