No way for Federer to avoid Murray juggernaut

World No 1 swept aside on a historic weekend for British tennis


Not even the roof could save Roger Federer this time. Three months after the mid-match closure of Centre Court's retractable cover helped to turn the Wimbledon final in favour of the Swiss, the roof here at the Qi Zhong Tennis Centre was shut during last night's Shanghai Masters semi-final as Andy Murray was about to serve for victory. On this occasion, however, the Scot needed just five points to complete a 6-4 6-4 victory after a 35-minute rain break.

Today will be an historic day for British tennis, which is enjoying a remarkable revival. While Murray, the first British male Grand Slam singles champion for 76 years, will take on Novak Djokovic in a repeat of last month's US Open final, 850 miles across the East China Sea Heather Watson was appearing this morning in her first Women's Tennis Association final.

Just three weeks after Laura Robson became the first Briton to appear in a WTA final for 22 years, Watson was meeting Kai-Chen Chang, of Chinese Taipei, in the final of the Japan Open in Osaka. Watson was also going for her third doubles title of the year, partnering the Japanese veteran, Kimiko Date-Krumm, against the Americans Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears.

Twenty-four hours after Murray struggled to overcome Radek Stepanek, the world No 3 played superbly to beat the greatest player in history. Federer has often brought the best out of Murray, who has won 10 of their 18 meetings and avenged his Wimbledon defeat by beating the Swiss in the Olympic final. Rarely, however, has the Scot outplayed him with such a measured display of attacking tennis.

From the moment he broke Federer in the opening game Murray went on the attack. The world No 1, who had the overwhelming support of a packed and boisterous crowd, struggled with his serve throughout – he was broken again in the fifth game of the first set after three successive double faults – but much of that was down to the pressure applied by Murray's returns. On Federer's second serves the Scot repeatedly stepped inside the baseline to bludgeon huge winning shots.

In the second set Federer saved seven break points in the opening game, during which there was an 11-minute delay for rain, but at 2-2 Murray broke again, winning the last four points with thunderous forehands. Murray was about to serve at 5-4 when rain started falling again. This time the players had to leave the court as the retractable cover – a beautiful eight-section structure in the shape of a magnolia flower – was closed, but when they returned Murray wasted no time securing victory. He is undefeated in three appearances at this tournament, having won the title in both 2010 and last year, and has beaten Federer in all three of their meetings here.

"I went for it like I did the last few times I played against him and it worked tonight," Murray said. "He didn't serve that well for him, so I was able to be very aggressive on his second serve. He maybe slowed down his first serve a little bit, so I was able to take a few more chances on the first serve."

Thirty-four days after Murray beat Djokovic in the US Open final, the 25-year-olds will renew a rivalry that goes back to their first meeting at an under-12s tournament. Djokovic, who beat Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-4 yesterday, has won eight of their 15 meetings as senior professionals, but Murray has won seven of the last 11.

"He's a bit more aggressive," Djokovic said when asked about Murray's improvement this year. "He goes more for his forehand, which wasn't his strength in the past. He's improved that stroke this year and he's more confident on the court, has more self-belief."

Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins, playing in their first Masters Series semi-final, were beaten 6-7 6-3 10-8 by India's Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna. The Britons can still qualify for the doubles competition at the Beardless ATP World Tour Finals but will need good results in their next three tournaments in Stockholm, Valencia and Paris.

Watson reached the Osaka final by beating Japan's Misaki Doi 7-6 7-5. The 20-year-old from Guernsey, ranked No 71 in the world, is likely to climb about 20 places in the world rankings if she wins the final and 15 if she loses.


Caption competition
Caption competition
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.

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies