Andy Murray blown away by Roger Federer
Andy Murray's performance in losing 6-4, 6-2 to Roger Federer was every bit as poor as his victory over Robin Soderling two days earlier had been exhilarating.
The only consolation is that the 23-year-old Scot could still qualify for this weekend's semi-finals by winning his last round-robin match tomorrow against Spain's David Ferrer.
Murray's two matches so far have summed up a season in which his form has fluctuated wildly. Every aspect of his game looked in excellent shape against Soderling, yet almost nothing went right against Federer. Murray's backhand, usually his most reliable weapon, misfired badly, his serve lacked penetration and consistency, and his returns were woeful.
“It was a bit strange,” Federer admitted afterwards. “Andy's one of the best returners we have in the game so I'm quite surprised. I'm almost a bit shocked to be honest.”
Murray did not pull any punches either. “I did the two most important things in tennis very poorly today, which is serve and return,” he said. “Against someone as good as Roger, you can't do them badly. You're not going to win the match.”
The indications were not good when Murray kept missing his first serve in the opening game and was broken to love two games later. Thereafter Federer consistently threatened the Murray serve, even using chip-and-charge tactics as his confidence grew.
Murray, in contrast, won just eight points on Federer's serve in the whole match and did not force a single break point.
Having closed out the first set, Federer raced into a 4-0 lead at the start of the second, after which Murray at least won two more games, which could yet prove vital in the qualifying process.
On the rare occasions when Murray upped his game by ripping into his ground strokes he was never able to build any momentum. Federer made few mistakes but for the most part seemed to be playing within himself.
Murray looked washed out and there was barely a “C'mon!” from a player who can be one of the most vociferous on court.
However, Murray insisted: “I didn't feel flat on the court. Maybe it's just very different to what you're used to seeing from me.
“That's something that I'm trying to work on, not letting my emotions control how I'm playing. I just tried to stay calm, tried to find a way, and it didn't happen that way.”