Following hard-fought three-set battles on both ends, 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer and Andy Murray will meet in what is easily the most anticipated quarter-final on Friday at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. This is the 22nd time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour with the Murray vs Federer H2H standing at 11-10.
Although there were tense moments during his match against Gael Monfils, Federer eventually routed himself to a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win over the Frenchman in less than two hours of court time. It was a shaky effort but eventually the world No. 3 adjusted and began smothering his opponent at the net to close out the third set in commanding fashion.
While Federer admitted that he was happy with his own performance, he complimented Murray for his consistency over the past few weeks and revealed he is excited about their upcoming encounter.
“I’m happy for him that he’s playing [well] again. He was close against Tsonga last week… could have had a run there. That’s why I know the danger of this match tomorrow. I think it was a huge match for him to beat Isner. Those are the kind of matches you need to win to get going again. I know I’m in for a tough one.”
On the other hand, the British No. 1 played a fantastic match on Grandstand against John Isner, and even though he needed three sets to close out the contest, he eventually did so in emphatic fashion to secure his spot in the quarter-final round of the tournament. It was a heavily competitive contest from the get-go and only saw one break of serve throughout.
The two remained locked in a service battle until the opening set tiebreak, and while Murray had the minibreak and the upper hand, it was Isner who reeled off 5 consecutive points to snatch the set from the Scot’s grasp.
Unfortunately for the American, Murray would rebound quickly to take the break advantage and a 2-0 lead in the second set. He would hang onto that lead to close out the set 6-4 before the two returned to their stubborn service battle in the third set. Murray, who won 90% of his first service points throughout the match, played the bigger points better in the final tiebreak and eventually won the match when Isner double faulted on match point.
“I just managed to find a way to get through that game,” Murray said of facing two match points. “I hit some good passing shots. I was hitting the ball very clean for the majority of the match. I wasn’t mis-hitting many balls. When I was getting into rallies I was able to dictate a lot of the points, but in that game in particular it was just instincts, really.”
Federer and Murray have met 21 times on the professional tour, leaving a head-to-head record of 11-10, in favour of Murray. Federer won their most recent encounter at the Australian Open but prior to that Murray had won three of the last four meetings dating back to the 2012 London Olympics. Federer is still struggling to take command of the hard court conditions in Cincinnati and that could be troubling against an inspired Murray who has been dominant on serve so far this week. This may be the Scot’s time to make a deep run ahead of the US Open.
One way or another, Murray is just happy to get such a stern challenge ahead of the US Open.
“It can be a perfect test,” said Murray. “The US Open is just 10 days away, and normally against him you’ll see exactly where your game is at.”
Prediction: Andy Murray in Three Sets