Andy Murray should have Roger Federer worried. Despite Federer’s current, if not ongoing reign on the courts, Murray is showing himself to be the possible heir apparent to Federer’s throne; and rightfully so. The Murray-Federer match today at the Australian Open promises to be a classic battle of epic proportion, a sort of David and Goliath confrontation where the “kid,” lacking in stature and intimidation factor, can use his considerable finesse and underdog status to find his opponent’s weakest spot and bring him crashing to the ground.
Murray has every right to be taken seriously. He’s beaten Federer before. He knows it can be done. In the past, he’s depended on running down the long-play, and pushing Federer out of his comfort zone. That might not work so well today, because if the press is talking that line, you have to know Federer is warming up his own set of weapons. Not to worry though; Murray is an excellent all-around player with considerable court-directed art in his repertoire. He’ll need to remember that winning the game today will require more than surprise and stamina. He’ll need to remember that maybe, just maybe, Federer really has figured the “kid,” out.
Working on the other side of this equation, the once 40-match streak champion simply isn’t making those kinds of statements these days, but that’s not to say he can’t. Six years after his 2004 Australian Open, where Federer made winning look not only easy, but his due, he is not anywhere near being in a free-fall or even a slump. Federer is a tennis player in his prime. He has attitude that both comes from, and makes him, the best.
So, no matter who wins, today’s match promises one helluva tennis-junkie spectacle. Federer makes tennis look like it’s easy. Watching him serve you would swear it was your high-school instructor just tossing and hitting the ball - at least until, like in high school, you tried to hit it back! His slice backhand is strategic and purposeful. He has the ability and penchant for ignoring the books on technique and simply getting out there and doing what and whatever must be done. Murray will be able to parry well, no matter. The man can recover after a shot as though the laws of physics didn’t apply. He’ll be able to answer Federer’s slice with a balanced two-handed return that takes out the intended sting.
If you’ve ever wanted to get somebody else interested in the game, today’s match just might be the factor that makes even the most unlikely spectator into a serious tennis fan, drooling for more. No matter if you’re betting on Murray as the underdog and hoped for usurper, or Federer, as the deserving king keeping the offending, undignified mosquito in his place; you’re sure to get a great visual and competitive-fix volley out of today’s Australian Open. Anybody know where I can put a few dollars down on Murray? Just call me a long-shot lover.