Sunday 26 February 2017

Roger Federer reigns supreme as serving masterclass breaks Andy Murray's resistance

Nick Purewal

Roger Federer looks dejected during his match against Roger Federer day Eleven of the Wimbledon Championships
Roger Federer looks dejected during his match against Roger Federer day Eleven of the Wimbledon Championships
Switzerland's Roger Federer celebrates beating Britain's Andy Murray during their men's semi-final match on day eleven of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships
Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrates after winning the Gentlemens Singles Semi Final match against Andy Murray of Great Britain during day eleven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships
Switzerland's Roger Federer celebrates beating Britain's Andy Murray during their men's semi-final match on day eleven of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships
Switzerland's Roger Federer celebrates beating Britain's Andy Murray during their men's semi-final match on day eleven of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships
Switzerland's Roger Federer celebrates beating Britain's Andy Murray during their men's semi-final match on day eleven of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon
Britain's Andy Murray's Swedish coach Jonas Bjorkman (2L), French coach Amelie Mauresmo (C), and his wife Kim Sears (R) react during his men's semi-final match against Switzerland's Roger Federer on day eleven of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships
Switzerland's Roger Federer celebrates beating Britain's Andy Murray during their men's semi-final match on day eleven of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon
Switzerland's Roger Federer celebrates beating Britain's Andy Murray during their men's semi-final match on day eleven of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon
Switzerland's Roger Federer (L) commiserates Britain's Andy Murray after beating him during their men's semi-final match on day eleven of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon
Switzerland's Roger Federer (L) shakes hands after beating Britain's Andy Murray during their men's semi-final match on day eleven of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon
Switzerland's Roger Federer celebrates beating Britain's Andy Murray during their men's semi-final match on day eleven of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon
Andy Murray of Great Britain looks dejected as he leaves court after losing the Gentlemens Singles Semi Final match against Roger Federer of Switzerland during day eleven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships

Andy Murray said Roger Federer had delivered a masterful serving performance as the seven-time champion beat the Scot in the Wimbledon semi-finals.

Murray lost 7-5 7-5 6-4 to the former world number one who will tackle Novak Djokovic in Sunday's final.

Federer fired 11 aces in the first set and 20 over the full course of the match.

"I played pretty well but he served really well," Murray said in his press conference.

"I could have done more returning-wise a few times.

"I don't know if it was close to his peak, you'd have to ask him, but that was definitely the best he's served against me.

"He clearly deserved to win the match.

"At times I played some very good tennis.

"I served well, probably the best I've served in the tournament, so it's tough.

"I definitely don't feel I played a bad match."

Roger Federer struck the first blow in his Wimbledon semi-final against Andy Murray as the Swiss clinched a pulsating opening set 7-5.

Murray, bidding to claim a second Wimbledon crown, had lost his last three consecutive meetings with the world number two and Federer remained on course to continue that streak as he seized the early advantage.

Murray would need to be at his resilient best against the Swiss master, who has never lost a semi-final at the All England Club and is showing the kind of form in this tournament to suggest he can secure a first major triumph in three years.

The last came against Murray, on Centre Court, in the unforgettable final of 2012, a match which proved so definitive for both players as the Briton turned tears into jubilation at the Olympics one month later and never looked back.

Crucial to his gold-clinching success was a raucous British crowd but Murray was in white, not red, white and blue, this time around and the fans' loyalties seemed more ambiguous when the pair walked out to a packed arena.

Tension filled the air at the start of the match as the crowd wavered between who to cheer louder and even the umpire's voice squeaked as he read out the first game score.

The players, however, were more assured in their strategy and early battle lines were drawn as Federer swarmed the net from the very first point while Murray darted about the baseline, unleashing lobs and passes wherever he could find a gap.

A break point arrived for Murray just five points into the contest but Federer produced two strong serves to snuff out the chance.

It was the Briton's only opportunity in the first set to crack the Federer serve, which was as potent as it was consistent, and in the 12th game the Swiss seized the decisive break himself.

Murray had been happy to counter-attack early on, trying to lengthen the points wherever possible, but after a rare foray forward, Federer ripped a backhand into the Scot's feet to take a one-set lead.

Federer was enjoying one of his golden spells and Murray could do little but hang on, saving a break point early in the second set to maintain parity.

The Scot scrambled his way to 5-4 but with the set in sight, Federer stepped up again, whipping a scintillating forehand cross-court to open up 0-40 and three set points.

Murray saved all three but Federer was not done yet as a mammoth game ensued in which the players slugged out 17 minutes worth of exhilarating tennis.

Two more set points were saved by Murray, who for those moments at least won unerring support from the Centre Court crowd, as he chased Federer's booming groundshots before finally snatching the game with an ace.

Lesser players would struggle to bounce back but Federer showed no lasting signs of disappointment as he served out to love in two minutes to pile the pressure instantly back on Murray.

A limp forehand into the net gave Federer his sixth set point and this time the number two seed made no mistake, outmanoeuvring Murray at the back before punching away the volley to take the second set 7-5.

Murray tried to adjust his strategy in the third set, stepping inside the baseline to attack his opponent but it only opened up more gaps which Federer exploited with ruthless efficiency.

Just as he had in the first two sets, Federer waited for his moment to strike as Murray again served to stay in the set at 5-4.

The Swiss attacked Murray's serve and when he opened up a match point, he took his opportunity at the first time of asking as a Murray forehand drifted wide to give Federer a surprisingly rapid victory in just two hours and seven minutes.

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