Andy Murray and Roger Federer will confront each other for the 25th time on Saturday in the Semifinals of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. A victory will assure Murray of the 2nd seed at the US Open, while Federer needs to win the tournament to pass the Scot in the ATP Rankings ahead of the last Major of the year. Novak could possibly be waiting in the finals as he attempts to become the 1st man to win the “Career Golden Masters” (win all the 9 Masters events).
Federer leads the head-to-head 13-11 and has won all the last 4 matches against Murray, his last defeat coming at the 2013 Australian Open. In the last 4 matches, Roger has absolutely dominated the Scot dropping just 1 set in the process. This includes the 6-0, 6-1 drubbing at the 2014 World Tour Finals in London (round robin stage). Murray, however, is ahead in the head-to-head on outdoor hard court 8-7 (Federer leads 11-10 on hard including the indoor events). Federer also leads 2-1 in Cincy against the British No.1. Roger is tracking the 7th Final of his career in Cincinnati, where he has already claimed 6 titles, while Andy is in quest for his 3rd, with 2 titles already under his belt. Federer has never lost a SF in Cincy whereas Murray is 2-1 in Cincy SF (the loss was against Roger in 2009).
As Andy Murray eventually ended his two year wait and 8-match losing streak against Novak Djokovic in Montreal on Sunday, the Brit also woke up superseding Roger Federer as the new World No. 2 just a couple of weeks before the start of the US Open. Roger Federer had held a solid hold on the second spot since last October but because of the swap, the all-time Grand Slam champion’s already-tough road to the U.S. Open got even tougher. It may only have a peripheral effect on the year’s final Slam, but could have big ramifications if the draw plays out in a specific way.
The Swiss No.1 had decided to skip the Rogers Cup in Canada last week to see to it that he is in the best potential shape for Flushing Meadows but being overhauled by Murray could have severe entailments on his likely path to the title.
The Reverberations of being Seeded 3rd – Roger’s Big Apple Challenge
American Legend Pete Sampras believes Federer has a chance of winning the US Open but says if he has to play Murray, Djokovic and Nadal back-to-back it becomes more difficult for him and this could now be the path he has to take after dropping out of the world’s top two. If he had sustained his ranking going into the final major, Federer would have by all odds avoided facing the World No.1 Nole until the final, but now he has a 50% chance of facing Djokovic in the semi-finals depending on which side of the draw the number three seed is placed. This opens up the chance of a rematch of their famous 2010 and 2011 semi-finals on Arthur Ashe Stadium which saw Djokovic save two match-points in consecutive years to beat Federer in five epic sets.
Federer still leads their head-to-head in New York 3-2 but at 34-years of age, it will now undoubtedly be harder for him to back up huge victories against the top players again just two days later. This was the case at Wimbledon, where he played incredibly well to knock out Murray in straight-sets, but despite still playing at a very high standard he was outlasted by the stubborn and undisputed Djokovic in the final.
This is not to suggest it is all doom and gloom for Federer, the implications could be wholly positive as he will certainly be rested and refreshed given the prolonged break following Wimbledon. The attention and expectation are also off the 17-time Grand Slam champion as many saw this year’s final at SW19 as his last realistic shot at title number 18 and with Murray putting a psychological marker down to Djokovic in Montreal, much of the focus heading into the US Open will be of a potential final between the pair. This will perhaps allow Federer to slide under the radar as he goes in search of his sixth title in New York.
Also being ignored as a contender for the title is Rafael Nadal, who is back in the top eight of the world rankings. This is obviously hugely important to the draw at Flushing Meadows as Nadal will not have to worry about a potential fourth round clash with a top eight player if he remains in this position, but it remains to be seen if he can rediscover any kind of form to go deep in New York. There have been occasional glimpses that Nadal is on the right path back to the top with his recent victories in Stuttgart and Hamburg, but the problem for the Spaniard has been when he tries to follow up these wins at ‘lesser’ tournaments with events alongside the world”s best. He was comfortably beaten by Kei Nishikori in Montreal last week as his confidence appears to be missing when he comes up against the sport’s top players. The one major thing to note is Rafa’s always made the final since 2010 (he missed 2012 & 2014 due to injuries).
He might perhaps be able to take solace from his old rival’s season in 2013. Federer himself slipped to number eight in the world and was written off by many after a hugely disappointing season two years ago, before rediscovering his form to challenge Djokovic at the top of the game.
With all this being said, it is sure to be an exciting two weeks at the US Open starting August 31st.
- As the 2nd Seed – Federer’s been the 2nd seed at 14 slams over his career. He’s won on 4 occasions – 2004 AO, 2008 USO, 2009 FO, 2009 WIM – “Unique Career Slam as the No.2 seed”. Murray’s was seeded 2nd at 2 slams and he’s won 1 – the epic 2013 WIM.
- As the 3rd Seed – Federer’s been the 3rd seed at 7 slams over his career. He’s won just once as the 3rd seed – his last major victory – 2012 WIM. Murray’s was seeded 3rd at 8 slams and he’s won 1 – his first slam at the 2012 USO.