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Federer Exposes Murray Frailty in Cincinnati

Locker Room

August 16, 2014

Roger Federer battled back from 1-4 down in what proved to be a decisive second set against Andy Murray in Cincinnati. 

The graceful Swiss had Murray scampering all over the court as he came through 6-3, 7-5 and earned the right to face Milos Raonic in tonight’s semi-final.  But Murray was at a loss to explain how he threw away yet another promising position, having recently led 3-0 in the final set against eventual tournament winner Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Toronto.

Federer, in sharp contrast, couldn’t have been more delighted after levelling his series against the Scot at eleven victories apiece.  ‘I’m very happy with the way my level of play has now installed itself,’ said the 2014 Wimbledon and Toronto finalist.  Roger broke to go 3-2 up in the first and closed out impressively. Yet Murray struck back with such venom in the second that you wondered whether Federer would be able to turn the tide in time for what looked like an inevitable third set.  Incredibly we never saw one. Murray, who had broken Federer twice and seemed in firm control, imploded yet again when it mattered.

‘Pretty poor tennis from that stage of the match,’ Andy admitted. ‘I don’t remember hitting very many good shots after the 4-1 game. I blew it. Yeah, it’s a shame.’

Murray has lacked a razor-sharp competitive edge since his back operation last year. He sometimes plays as though he feels he didn’t deserve his remarkable success in 2012 and 2013. The influence of former coach Ivan Lendl during that triumphant period looks increasingly key.  With current coach Amelie Mauresmo, Murray seems to get everything his own way. ‘She listens well, she understands how I like to work,’ said Andy recently.  But that relaxed dynamic doesn’t necessarily give a player the drive he needs to hit fresh heights, as he goes in search of more trophies.  Guided by Mauresmo, Murray simply seems to be going through the motions, playing without hunger and passion.

He’ll need to get mean in time for the US Open, which is almost upon us.

Meanwhile in Cincinnati it will be the 33-year-old, yet highly-motivated Federer who takes on Raonic, the powerful Canadian who crushed Fabio Fognini 6-1, 6-0.  In the other semi-final David Ferrer, who overcame Tommy Robredo 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, will play Julien Benneteau, the French outsider who surprised Stan Wawrinka with an emphatic 1-6, 6-1, 6-2 comeback.

Serena Williams is on course to claim her first Cincinnati title after beating Jelena Jankovic 6-1, 6-3, though the American insisted that she is ‘trying to play pressure-free’ as she prepares for a semi-final against Caroline Wozniacki. Rory McIlroy’s ex-fiancee beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 7-6 (5) to progress.  Maria Sharapova overcame some persistent serving problems to see off Simona Halep 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. In doing so, she set up a semi-final against Ana Ivanovic, conqueror of Elina Svitolina 6-2, 6-3.

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