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January 31, 2010

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Australian Open 2010, Melbourne, Australia
January 31, 2010
Editorial by Jane Voigt.


Jane Voigt Photo
Jane Voigt

Father Federer Wins Australian Open and 16th Major
January 31, 2010 -- Roger Federer solidified his place in tennis history today as the greatest player of all time by winning The Australian Open and his 16th Major title. This victory was Federer's fourth Australian Open, and his first Major as a father.
Federer defeated Scotsman Andy Murray who disappointed himself and Great Britain, losing in straight sets 64 63 76 (11). Last year, Federer called attention to himself when he cried during the trophy presentation. Tonight, Andy Murray shed the tears.
"I can cry like Roger, it's a shame I can't play like him," Andy said in front of 15,000 in attendance at Rod Laver Arena. This was Murray's second major final. He lost to Federer at the 2008 U. S. Open in three sets.
Federer reassured Murray that he was too good of a player not to win a grand slam title, "Don't worry about it," Roger said, holding the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup.
Federer's win puts him 2 crowns ahead of Pete Sampras and 4 in front of Aussie Roy Emerson. Federer will also remain on top of the ATP rankings as the #1 player in the world, extending his pinnacle position to 268 weeks. Pete Sampras stays on top of that mountain with 286 weeks at number one.
Andy Murray's sleepy, sloppy serve at the start of the match gave way to crisp, clean tennis quickly as the two finalists maneuvered their ways into the match. Warmish temperatures and rain had pushed up humidity levels and slowed the ball down. Rallies were prolonged until one got in position for a put-away shot. More times than not, Federer took advantage of these points.
"I didn't feel nervous," Andy began. "It's obviously against him, he puts a lot of pressure on you with the way that he plays. You need to focus really hard throughout the match."
The first set remained competitive until Federer took command in the ninth game with a break. Murray's lack of aggression cost him dearly. The set went to Federer 6/4.
"I think the first set could have gone either way," Roger said. "For me to get the first break and play well the way I did, and I think him as well, was obviously crucial for the match. We were both playing so well."
Murray lost the match because he didn't play big points big enough and because his serve fell flat of its normal effectiveness. Murray had done his homework, though. He smacked balls at Federer's backhand, a la Rafael Nadal. However, the Scot didn't follow up consistently. He had Federer compromised, but sent balls long or in the net.
"I think his level is a lot more consistent in the slams," Murray explained. "In the other tournaments he tries a few more things out. The shots he hits great all year round, they're still great. He just makes fewer unforced errors I think than he does the rest of the year."
Murray definitely appeared primed to take over at the start of the second set. He had three game points, but blew all three to lose the momentum. He was clearly unsettled. At 2/4, Federer looked to go up another break. Murray held him off, one confidence builder under his belt. It wasn't enough to stop Federer from closing the second 6/3.
"I definitely had to play some of my best tennis tonight to come through," Federer said. "That was clearly the case."
Had Andy Murray played even close to the caliber of tennis he showed in the third set, the match would have been longer and harder fought. His serve improved. He took more chances and hit winners, especially off his forehand. He stood closer to the baseline. Roger's pace and spirit of play didn't seem to meet Murray's challenge.
"I thought third set I had more of the chances," Murray said. "I thought I deserved to take it into a fourth, but it didn't happen."
All drama broke loose in the third set tiebreak. Either man could have won it. Had Murray converted any one of his five set opportunities, the match would've moved on to the fourth. With confidence in his sails, the scales could have tipped favorable for Murray. Richard Gasquet vividly remembers Murray's come-from-two-sets-behind escapade at the 2008 Wimbledon quarterfinals.
However, Murray's slow start of the final and continual misjudgment of shots altered history in favor of Federer. He needed his third championship point to gain possession of his sixteenth major crown.
"I always knew I had it in my hand," Roger began. "The question is do I have it in my mind and in my legs. That's something I had to work extremely hard at. Now I feel like obviously I'm being pushed a great deal by the new generation coming up. When I came on tour, matches were played differently. There was always a weakness you could go to. Today that doesn't exist anymore. I think that's also thanks to guys like Murray. They've made me a better player, because I think this has been one of my finest performances in a long time, or maybe forever."
As Federer packed up his tennis bag and threw complimentary wristbands to fans in the audience, many probably sat wondering if his streak would go on forever. It won't, as Federer knows in his heart. For now, the King is alive at 28. Forever probably doesn't exist in his kingdom of thoughts. The moments matter more. This one today is his greatest forever.

Earlier Columns from this Event:
January 30, 2010 Australian Open: Serena Wins 12th Major, Ties Billie Jean King
January 29, 2010 Australian Open: Federer Flies
January 28, 2010 Australian Open: The Long and Short of It
January 27, 2010 Australian Open: Semis Set For Singles
January 26, 2010 Australian Open: It's Something To Think About
January 25, 2010 Australian Open: Tennis's Tough Standards
January 24, 2010 Australian Open: Competition, Pure and Simple
January 23, 2010 Australian Open: Stosur, Hewitt Advance, Dellacqua Goes Home To Perth
January 22, 2010 Australian Open: Little Known, Little Being Said
January 21, 2010 Australian Open: The Happy Slam
January 20, 2010 Australian Open: Margin Of Error
January 19, 2010 Australian Open: Soderling Shocked, Oudin Ousted
January 18, 2010 Australian Open: And We Begin, Again; Australian Open kicks off with impromptu benefit for Haiti

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