Murray can profit on front foot

Briton has added to his game since becoming a thorn in Federer's side

Just as Tim Henman used to, Andy Murray likes playing Roger Federer. The Scot cannot match the Englishman's early record – Henman beat Federer in six of their first seven meetings – but his six victories in nine matches is more impressive given that all their meetings have been in the world No 1's prime. Rafael Nadal, who has beaten Federer 13 times out of 20, is the only other player competing at this week's Barclays ATP World Tour Finals with a positive head-to-head record against him.

Murray and Federer will meet again tonight in the second set of round-robin matches at the end-of-season showpiece at London's O2 Arena. With the top two players in both groups going through to Saturday's semi-finals, there will be plenty hanging on it. Depending on the result of this afternoon's first match between Juan Martin del Potro and Fernando Verdasco, the winner could secure passage into the last four, making their final round-robin match on Thursday irrelevant.

Since he lost to Federer in last year's US Open final Murray has had an outstanding record against him. The 22-year-old Scot beat the 28-year-old Swiss four times in succession between October and March before losing their only subsequent meeting, in Cincinnati in August, when Murray was starting to struggle with the wrist injury that eventually forced him to take six weeks off.

Henman was a rarity in that he was an attacking player who consistently got the better of Federer. Murray is more in the mould of counter-attackers like David Nalbandian and Lleyton Hewitt who often got the better of Federer in his early days.

For the most part Federer has worked out how to beat more defensive opponents, but Murray still gives him trouble. Murray's excellent returns and speed around the court, coupled with his great ability to surprise with subtle variations of pace, disrupt Federer's flow.

While the Swiss insists that Murray does not get under his skin more than any other player, there have been times when he has appeared rattled by his failure to get the better of the world No 4. When Murray beat him in Dubai last year, Federer said he was surprised that Murray had not changed his game and become a more attacking player. "He's going to have to grind very hard for the next few years if he's going to keep playing this way," Federer said at the time.

"He stands way back in the court. You have to do a lot of running and he tends to wait a lot for his opponent to make a mistake. I gave him the mistakes, but over a 15-year career, you want to look to win a point more often than wait for the other guy to miss."

Judy Murray, Andy's mother, later admitted that those comments "may have provoked a realisation in Andy that he had to become more aggressive more often if he was to challenge for the big prizes."

Murray has added to his attacking game in the last 18 months, though Federer still believes that he dictates the outcome of their matches. "When we both play well it's a close match, but I always feel it's the attacker who holds the key to success, so it's up to me whether I win or lose, not up to him," he told The Independent in an interview last week.

"It's like when Sampras and Agassi played. Agassi was more aggressive, but still Sampras holds the keys because he was serving, he was pushing the limits, he was taking the risks. Murray doesn't do that so much – though that doesn't take anything away from him. That's just his game style."

Murray should be buoyed by his memory of their previous meeting in this tournament, when his win in 2008 knocked Federer out. As both players won their first matches on Sunday that cannot happen tonight, but Murray knows all about the psychological benefits of beating the world's best.

Head to head: Murray v Federer

Head-to-head record

Andy Murray leads Roger Federer 6-3 (all matches played on hard courts)

2005 Bangkok (final): Federer won 6-3, 7-5

2006 Cincinnati (second round): Murray won 7-5, 6-4

2008 Dubai (first round): Murray won 6-7, 6-3, 6-4

2008 US Open (final): Federer won 6-2, 7-5, 6-2

2008 Madrid (semi-final): Murray won 3-6, 6-3, 7-5

2008 Shanghai – Tennis Masters Cup (round-robin): Murray won 4-6, 7-6, 7-5

2009 Doha (semi-final): Murray won 6-7, 6-2, 6-2

2009 Indian Wells (semi-final): Murray won 6-3, 4-6, 6-1

2009 Cincinnati (semi-final): Federer won 6-2, 7-6

Suggested Topics
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...