Federer timed his run to perfection at the season’s first major, beating fifth-seeded Murray 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (11) in yesterday’s final to collect his fourth Australian Open title.
This time last year, Federer was sobbing after a five-set loss to Rafael Nadal at Melbourne Park. He’d missed a chance to equal Pete Sampras’ record of 14 Grand Slams, compounding an emotional few weeks.
In the intervening period, he has won on clay at the French Open to complete a career Grand Slam of all four majors and equal the Sampras record. Then he regained his Wimbledon crown to get the record in his own right at 15.
He also became a father of twins.
This time, Murray was on the verge of tears after missing a chance to become the first British man since 1936 to win a major. The pressure on the 22-year-old Scot had intensified after he’d beaten Nadal in the quarter-finals.
“I thought he was actually doing fine until he told me, ‘I think there will be some tears,”’ Federer said of Murray. “I’m like, ‘Don’t worry, it will be all right.’ And he actually did.
“In a way it was hard to watch, but I like seeing players who care for the game. It’s nice to see. So you wish only the best for him.”
Federer enjoys making history. This was his 22nd Grand Slam final, his 18th in the last 19. He compared this triumph with his win last year at Wimbledon, when he earned the record for most majors in his own right.
“This felt similar in a way, because all of a sudden it was over and it hit me,” he said. “It was very much a rollercoaster with the emotions. I guess the match point was over, and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, this is it. It was great.”
Murray was on the verge of tears, drawing deep breaths as he apologised for failing to end a 74-year-old drought for British men.
“Hopefully, one time I can come back and win here,” he added, his voice breaking: “I can cry like Roger; it’s just a shame I can’t play like him.”
Ironically Murray still holds a 6-5 advantage over Federer in career head-to-heads – one of only four players who can boast such an advantage – but has lost the last three.
Last year, Federer had just discovered that he was to be the father of twins. The emotions bubbled over after his loss to Nadal. But he recovered from that defeat to win at the French Open.
He won Wimbledon before his twin daughters were born. Federer reached his fourth Grand Slam final of the year at the US Open, only to lose in an upset to Juan Martin del Potro. Federer ensured no recurrence of the upset here, though.
Federer got on top early, taking a 2-0 lead. But Murray broke back immediately with consecutive passing shots–one which the Swiss star even had to applaud.
Federer had to save three break points in the fifth game before holding with back-to-back aces. He then broke Murray in the eighth game, lifting his intensity in perfect time so that he could serve for the set.
Federer dominated the second set after breaking Murray’s serve in the third game, but his intensity dropped slightly in the third.
Murray pounced, taking a 5-2 lead before Federer rallied again, winning four of the next five games to force the tiebreaker.
After saving three set points, Federer missed his first chance to finish it off when his curling forehand just missed the line.
His unusual decision to try a drop shot at 10-9 backfired when Murray surged to the net and put a winner over Federer’s head.
The Swiss saved another set point, then converted his third match point.
The top seeds fared well at the Australian Open, with Serena Williams defending her singles title over Justine Henin and combining with her sister Venus Williams to win doubles.
Another set of American siblings won the men’s doubles, with twins Bob and Mike Bryan beating Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic.