Roger Federer thinks Andy Murray has not changed his game since they first met three years ago and should play less defensively in the future. The 20-year-old Scot, who beat the world No 1 in the Dubai Championships here on Monday night, disagrees and found powerful allies yesterday in Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, the No 2 and No 3 in the world respectively.
"Murray has a great style and talent and knows how to play at any one moment," Djokovic said after his 6-4, 6-3 win over Marin Cilic. "Roger doesn't like it when you get a lot of balls back against him."
Nadal, speaking after a 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber, reckons Murray "is getting very good results with his style and if you are doing well why do you have to change?" What is indisputable is that Murray, who plays Fernando Verdasco in the second round today, has found a way to win his last two matches against the planet's best player.
"There are some things you do differently against different players," the world No 11 said. "If you watched my match against Nadal in the Australian Open last year I was playing pretty close to the baseline and taking a lot of risks because I think that's the correct way to play him. Against Federer I don't think that's the right way to play."
Djokovic, who beat Federer in straight sets on his way to the Australian Open title in January, believes there is a power shift at the top of the game. "Roger is starting to lose more and more," he said. "He's been world No 1 for four years but players have started to believe they can beat him. As time passes you learn more and more, especially if you play him. After the results in the last couple of months more players believe they can beat him."
Both Djokovic and Nadal said Murray's victory had been no surprise. "Murray's a fantastic player and he's going to be at the top for a long time," Nadal said.