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Murray v Federer as it happened

Qatar Open

Semi-final result:

A Murray (GB) bt R Federer (Swi)

6-7 6-2 6-2

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By Tom Fordyce

Murray 6-2 Federer
He looks into the locker, but there's nothing there - Murray dismantles him with such cold-eyed efficiency that you almost feel sorry for Federer, and it's almost fitting that the match ends with Roger dumping the easiest of overheads into the net. The world has truly moved on. Fantastic comeback from Murray, deserved victory, and he marches on to face Andy Roddick in the final.

Well well well. Hats off to the Murray machine, and thanks to you for your company - apologies to 606 users that I couldn't lob more of your comments in. Nothing personal - simply got a touch frantic out there today.

Murray 5-2 Federer
Whatever that trainer did to the Murray back clearly worked - it's firing on all vertebrae once again. Murray holds without breaking additional beads of sweat, and Federer needs something from his special locker if he's to come back from this now.

From barrystar on 606: "When Fed is losing like this it's like being in one of those dreams when you cannot run fast enough to get away."

Murray 4-2 Federer
Relief for Roger - a hold to love to pour balm into the open wound. As the match edges into its third hour, he now needs to break sharpish.

Murray 4-1 Federer
Murray batters his seventh ace down the middle to go to 30-15 and then goes time after time to the Fed backhand - Roger, driven to distraction, flays two successive efforts out. The stern of the Fedship points skywards and begins to slide down into the icy depths.

Murray 3-1 Federer
Mirka, tucked away in a dark-grey duffel coat like Paddington bear on his way from deepest darkest Peru, watches on anxiously as the gladiators trade punches from the baseline at 30-30. After 21 sizzling strokes it's Murray who stands tallest to set up break point - but Roger rakes a forehand cross-court cornerwards to save it. He follows it with a lame forehand into the net to ship another - and then another! Murray has the break, and the good ship Fed is listing heavily to starboard.

Murray 2-1 Federer
Uh-oh - first double-fault from Murray, and Roger takes a few steps forward at 15-15 to receive the next one. A tourniquet of groundstrokes throttle Fed out of the next point - but what a backhand that is off the Murray second serve! 30-30, and Murray rubs his back in pain. That's four successive first serves he's missed now. Fed has a chance to go 30-40 but wastes a backhand into the net, claws his way back to deuce with an angled forehand slicer and is then left helpless as Murray rediscovers that first serve to squeak home.

Could be trouble for Murray here - he's called for the trainer, and he's back in his chair with the facial expression of a man with severe constipation. After a poke and prod he's ordered to lie on his back - the trainer pushes his knees up into his chest before tapping him on the shoulder and pushing him back into the arena.

Murray 1-1 Federer
Grimace from Murray as a backhand bites the tape to allow a visibly-riled Roger to hold to love - only the third time he's done that all match. Shouldn't be too many problems with tiredness for either player at this point, as they've both gone straight sets through the tournament to this point.

Murray 1-0 Federer
Could be key, the fact that Murray sealed that last set off Roger's serve - he now has the chance to start this decider with his own. At 40-0 he looks home and hosed, only to wobble like a Weeble and let Roger back in to 40-30 - but then Fed flaps a forehand wide, and Murray is in front for the first time in the match.

SECOND SET

Murray 6-2 Federer
At 0-30 an uncertain hush falls over the star-struck Doha crowd. Murray misses with a cross-court backhand blaster, but then comes up with a sensational point - shifting Roger around mercilessly before polishing him off with the rudest of sliced drop-shots. We're at a set-all - and the momentum is all with the Murray Express...

Murray 5-2 Federer
What's going on with the Fore fedhand - I mean the Fed forehand? That's another sloppy shot, the ball sailing long beyond the baseline, and Murray goes into the changeover with a two-game cushion and an ostentatious fist-pump.

Murray 4-2 Federer
"Ai-yai-yai!" shouts Federer as he booms a forehand into the train-tracks. Murray has 15-30 against the Fed serve and looks to have passed him for 15-40, but Fed somehow stretches away at the tape to tip a backhand volley back across the tape for the winner. Not that it matters - a ropey double-fault is followed by another uncharacteristic forehand error way beyond the baseline, and Murray has the break...

From roomuurrhamil on 606: "yesss murray !!!"

Murray 3-2 Federer
Bounce bounce bounce goes the ball as Murray leans down into his serve and glances across the net. He slings the ball high, arches his back and then barrels it down the middle and away for the ace that seals a trouble-free service hold.

Murray 2-2 Federer
Really hotting up now, this contest - Murray is clambering all over the point at 15-30 but a Rog volley is good enough to make grown men weep. You can barely slide a sliced cigarette paper between these two at the moment.

Murray 2-1 Federer
Now we're in trouble - Fed has rediscovered his forehand, and a series of blistering bullets give him three break points on the Murray serve. A solid first serve saves the first, an ace down the middle the second - and then another biggie into Fed's backhand corner saves the third. Super mental strength, the Murray first serve is so much stronger than it used to be. Two rock-solid volleys at the net later, he's back in front. Officially impressive.

From Simply_Moc on 606: "Come on Tom - I know the game is exciting but you haven't posted anything from the 606'ers yet. We can't be that uninteresting."

It's not you, Super_Moc - it's me.

Murray 1-1 Federer
Fed holds in the time it would take me to type this sentence one-handed.

Murray 1-0 Federer
Murray marches out, takes aim at the corners with his first serve and gets his comeback going with a heartening hold. Quick look at the stats for you - he's hit 72% on his shots to the Fed backhand side so far, and has left that controversial drop-shot in the locker for the most part.

FIRST SET

Murray 6-7 Federer
Right - I'll give you a halfway update to keep you from biting your nails clean off - Rog leads 4-1 having suddenly accelerated through the gears. Ominous - he's suddenly gone all US Open final on Murray. Big serving takes Murray back to 3-4, and a rare double-fault from Fed suddenly has us level at 4-4. Fury from Murray as a lacklustre lob is battered away by Federer, but Roger then puts an easy forehand way wide - 5-5. A serve close to 140mph then gives Murray set point - but what a point that his from Fed on his second serve! Murray is furious as his next forehand is called out, and rightly so - Hawk-Eye shows it was in by a mile, but Roger gets a new first serve and aces it to go to set point - and he then strings together three imperious forehands to snatch the set.

18 unforced errors from Federer, but 24 winners too, and just as in his quarter-final he managed to produce his best just when it mattered. Work to do for Murray.

Murray 6-6 Federer
Tie-break time it is, but only after a struggle. Murray races to 30-0 but is hauled back to deuce after shipping his first point off his first serve, and is lucky to escape a break point when Fed drills a simple forehand into the tape. In the stands, Kim Sears has her hair pulled back into a tight bun, and is wearing the sort of fake-fur collared suede coat favoured by early 1990s students and Byrds-era David Crosby.

Murray 5-6 Federer
Strange little game, that one - almost as if both players had signed a truce and agreed to suspend hostilities until the breaker. Rog plucks a fresh white bouncy towel from his stash, wipes the back of his neck and then drapes the cape-like towel around his shoulders, like James Brown on stage circa 1967.

Murray 5-5 Federer
Tremendous power and accuracy from Murray - not even a finger-hold for Fed on the vertical slope of that game. Is that a tie-break I hear a'comin' around the corner?

Murray 4-5 Federer
Good Fed takes over from Bad Fed and produces his best service game so far (two aces, to love) to move within a game of the first set. Murray buries his face in his towel and squints up into the middle-distance.

On the O'Leary/Francis angle, I'm told by a spy in the crowd that they're in town to cover the Gulf Cup football. Ray Parlour's knocking around as well. Oh to be in Doha in Jan '09 - it would be like the Left Bank of Paris in the 1920s, Athens in the time of Socrates...

Murray 4-4 Federer
Big contrast, there - the easiest of love-holds for Murray. It's strange watching the 2009 version of Federer - there are still signs of his old magic, but increasingly too there's the sort of off-key ropiness you just don't expect. It's like Stevie Wonder around "Hotter Than July" time.

Murray 3-4 Federer
Hawk-Eye is back, just in time to save Roger's Swiss bacon at deuce - his serve down the middle is called long, but he challenges with a dismissive wave of his elegant fingers and is proved right on replay. Mistakes from both players - Murray netting a forehand, Fed putting a backhand long - and Fed then needs a perfect service point to wriggle off the hook after another backhand error. Dicey times - but his best backhand and point of the match squeak him home.

From LargsMafia on 606: "Would it really be so bad if Murray were to lose today? Ok, the ranking points are a factor, after the last Qatar Open. But surely the big picture has to be the Oz Open next week?"

Murray 3-3 Federer
Two more effortless points from Murray, and that's 10 on the bounce on his serve now. Roger goes on the blazing-eyed attack to rifle a forehand cross-court, but then goes too long and is pegged back to level.

Murray 2-3 Federer
O'Leary and Francis it is, the latter looking even more like a tanned Jasper Carrot than he used to. Easy hold for Roger with the aid of some solid smooth hitting. A whisper to both players from the umpire as they rest at the changeover - Hawk-Eye is out of action after an electrical mishap. Challenges are off - repeat, challenges are off.

Murray 2-2 Federer
Whoosh - two wonderful disguised backhands cross-court from Murray to move to 30-0. Fed flicks his fringe from his eyes but is then moved around mercilessly. Have I just spotted former footballers/managers David O'Leary and Trevor Francis in the crowd?

Murray 1-2 Federer
Interesting - the Fed forehand is showing early signs of rust. He balloons another out and is then passed by a double-hand backhand to give Murray a glimmer at 30-30. A forehand mistake apiece takes us to a wide-eyed deuce - and then another as Fed's serving sights slip slightly sideways. Murray challenges a ropey line-call to move to advantage, misses out by a fraction with an attempted forehand boomer and is then polished off by a smooth Fed forehand into the furthest reaches of his backhand corner.

Murray 1-1 Federer
Gulps from the Murray camp as the Federer forehand purrs into action and pick-pockets a 0-30 advantage, only for Murray to get level as a backhand goes long. Fed then screams at the stars as another forehand clunks off the frame and sails out, and a thumping Murray first serve out wide seals the deal.

Murray 0-1 Federer
Roger, decked out in navy-blue short-sleeved top and matching knee-length baggies, races to 30-0 with first-serve vim before the pale-legged Murray drills a series of backhands cross-court to snatch his first point. Rog narrows his eyes and serves out the game.

1526: A reminder that Murray is 4-2 up in career head-to-heads between the pair, although when it comes to the real real biggies, Fed's got his Swiss nose in front. Up in the stands, Mirka Fed delicately applies some ruby lip-gloss to her pursed mouth-surrounders.

1520: The players are out in Doha, strolling out onto the purple court with its green surrounds. Very Wimbledon colour scheme, that - surely a deliberate nod. The heat's fading away from the day as night arrives on the scene in Qatar.

1510: What was that? You wanted something to help wile away the last few hours of your working week? How about a mouthwatering clash between one of the greatest tennis players of all time and a man in such a red-hot streak of form that he could change his name to Andy Indomitable?



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see also
Tennis stars kick off 2009
04 Jan 09 |  Tennis
Murray's magical year
16 Nov 08 |  Tennis


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