Australian Open 2014: Andy Murray upset by 'double bounce' call as Roger Federer halts comeback
British number one proud despite being knocked out in quarter-final
Andy Murray’s disappointment at going out of the Australian Open was compounded by a sense of injustice over a point that proved to be one of the key moments in his 6-3, 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 quarter-final defeat to Roger Federer.
Murray, playing only his second comeback tournament following back surgery, looked a spent force after three hours and 20 minutes on court and felt aggrieved that a misjudgement by the umpire, Pascal Maria, might have contributed to the length of the match.
The moment of controversy came at 4-4 in the third set, when Federer broke Murray’s serve. The 32-year-old Swiss played a winning lob but television replays, which were shown on the big screen on court, suggested he might have made contact with the ball after it bounced twice.
Federer went on to break serve and although Murray broke back immediately and won the subsequent tie-break, the Scot was unhappy that the set might have taken longer than necessary.
“Roger asked for them to stop showing it on the video because I think he knew it bounced twice as well,” Murray said. “I was disappointed because I got broken in that game and ended up breaking in the next game.
“Every point at that stage is crucial because I was pushing hard to try and get back into the match and fighting extremely hard,” he added.
“Rather than spending an extra 30 minutes on that set, I potentially could have been serving a little bit fresher at the beginning of the fourth set, so it was disappointing.”
Murray acknowledged that there was no provision to use video replays to review such issues but added: “Roger asked them not to show it on video because it looks controversial and doesn’t look great, but it’s fine for them to show videos of me every time I get annoyed on the court or whatever. It’s up there the whole bloody match.”
Federer did not think the ball had bounced twice. “It looked good,” he said. “I just told the umpire: ‘How can they show this and create this controversial moment potentially?’ It’s not really what you want to do. I hope it was played the right way. If it wasn’t, I’m sorry. But it’s an umpire’s call.”
Despite his disappointment, Murray was justifiably upbeat about his performances here, given that he had arrived at the tournament with only two competitive matches under his belt after undergoing back surgery four months ago. “I was proud of the way I fought,” he said.
Murray saved 13 of the 17 break points that Federer created. The Scot, who had reached the semi-finals or better on his last four appearances here, had much more trouble creating inroads into Federer’s service games, converting one of only two break points which he had forced.
Federer, who goes on to meet his old foe Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals after the Spaniard beat Grigor Dimitrov 3-6, 7-6, 7-6, 6-2, has looked in excellent shape ever since he arrived here just over a fortnight ago. Recruiting Stefan Edberg to his coaching entourage and using a new racket appear to have had a positive influence on him.
The former world No 1, who is through to his 11th successive Melbourne semi-final, took the first two sets with single breaks as Murray struggled to return serve.
The Scot, upping the tempo and hitting some big shots, finally broke when Federer served for the match at 5-4 in the third set. From 6-4 down in the subsequent tie-break Murray played four superb points, full of controlled aggression, to win it 8-6.
Both men were playing well at this stage and in the second game of the fourth set, which lasted 19 minutes, Federer failed to take six break points. But at 3-4 Murray looked a spent force physically and the Swiss made the final break of serve. He went on complete victory with an ace.
“It’s basically been four months since I was lying on my back not being able to move or walk,” Murray said. “I put in a lot of hard work for this long period. Then time goes into getting yourself ready. You want to give yourself the best chance to win. A lot of work went into this Slam compared with other ones where you have a few weeks to prepare. This time I had a long time to prepare, maybe just not enough matches.”
Murray said he had felt okay physically and that his back had not been a problem. “Obviously that’s the highest level I’ve played at in a long time,” he said. “My serve slowed down a bit in the fourth set, especially the first couple of points when I was getting up after the change of ends, but I hung in well, pushed through it and almost got myself back in the match.
“I’ve come a long way in four months. Right now I’m obviously very disappointed. There are maybe some things I would possibly have done a bit differently if I was ever to have surgery again. But it’s the first time I ever went through something like that. I thought I did a good job getting myself in good shape to be competitive at this level. I wasn’t too far away in the end.”
He added: “I don’t know how many players have come back from surgery and won the first Grand Slam back in their second tournament. It’s very unlikely to happen. I guess I just need to use this as a stepping stone to getting better and be happy that I’ve got through five matches.”
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