World number one Roger Federer believes all the pressure will be on Andy Murray when they meet in the Australian Open final on Sunday.
The 28-year-old Swiss set up a re-match of their 2008 US Open final meeting when he breezed through his semi-final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in just an hour and 28 minutes to win 6-2 6-3 6-2.
It was an ominous display from the 15-time grand slam record holder who has now reached 18 of the past 19 major finals.
His victory over Murray at Flushing Meadows was a part of that remarkable run when he outclassed the young Scot – who was making his first and until Sunday only grand slam final appearance – in straight sets.
Murray has said he believes he learned from that defeat, but Federer was sceptical of that statement following his win today.
The Swiss believes Murray will have learned little from the loss and claimed the pressure to break his grand slam duck could be too much for the 22-year-old Scot to bear come Sunday.
“He’s in his second grand slam final now. I think the first one’s always a bit tougher than the second one,” he said.
“But he didn’t win the first one and I think that doesn’t help for the second one around.
“Plus he’s playing me who has won many grand slams prior to that. I’ve been able to win here three times so I know what it takes and how to do it which is definitely an advantage.
“I don’t feel like the pressure is really on me having to do it again, because I did it before.
“I think he really needs it more than I do. So I think the pressure is big on him.
“We’ll see how he’s going handle it. It’s not going to be easy for him, that’s for sure.
“He’s one match away. I’ll make sure it won’t happen.
“We’ll see how it goes.”
Despite that, Federer said he thought Murray had shown a new maturity at Melbourne Park this fortnight.
The Swiss is not envious of Murray’s position as the great hope to end Britain’s 74-year wait for a major champion and said he thought the Scot had handled the close media scrutiny well.
“It’s just funny because that’s the question (about ending Britain’s drought) he probably gets asked quite a bit,” he said.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a bit fed up by it. I think he’s done really well, handling the pressure and considering the sort of media in England is very strong. So I think he’s done great under the pressure.
“Maybe at the US Open you could think he crumbled there under pressure, being in the final the year before.
“I think once your game is good enough even on your off days you come through. I think that’s what he’s proving here at the Australian Open now.”
For his part, Murray believes he will have to produce a “special performance” to claim his maiden success.
Murray has been buoyed by an impressive run that has seen him lose just one set and knock out the defending champion Nadal on his run to the final.
But he is expecting a long night on Rod Laver Arena if he is to triumph as Federer’s two final defeats last year – against Nadal in Australia and Juan Martin del Potro at the US Open – were both five-set encounters.
“Roger’s record in slams speaks for itself,” Murray said.
“He had a great year last year in making all four finals. The two that he lost were incredibly tough five-setters.
“You know it will take a special performance to win against him.
“But I feel like I can do that.”
The Scot said he was focused on his task and denied he would be wracked by the nerves that undermined his performance when they met in that Flushing Meadows final.
“I was obviously nervous in that first final as everyone is going to be,” he said.
“It will be my job to make sure that I play against the opponent and not let that get in the way of my performance.
“There’s obviously going to be a lot of pressure out there and nerves. But I think I’m old enough now and experienced enough now to be able to deal with it well.
“Hopefully I’ll play better. I’m sure I will.”