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On Tap Day 12: Federer, Murray Angle for Final

Roger Federer and Andy Murray will meet for the 20th time on Friday, with a spot in the 2013 Australian Open final on the line.

By Chris Oddo

Fed-Murray, 2012 Wimbledon (January 24, 2013) -- A massive men’s semifinal, along with mixed doubles semis and the women’s double final, are on the docket for Day 12.

Roger Federer vs. Andy Murray, Night Session

Roger Federer and Andy Murray’s rivalry may not have the cachet of Nadal-Federer or Federer-Djokovic, but their rivalry definitely gained some ground in 2012 when Andy Murray avenged his loss in the Wimbledon final by dismantling Federer in the Olympic Gold Medal match.

Federer, who had snuffed out Murray’s hopes and dreams in three previous Grand Slam finals (2008 U.S. Open, 2010 Australian Open, 2012 Wimbledon), got a taste of his own medicine in that Olympic final. Had Federer won, he’d have earned the career Golden Slam and further cemented his already ridiculously well-padded legacy. But Murray slugged him off the court that day, and in the process he shifted the course of his own career.

A month later, Murray would become a Grand Slam champion, and now that that’s the case, the hope is that Murray will handle the pressure of being across the net from Federer in high-stakes matches a bit better than he did in his previous three Grand Slam finals.

The Scot has always matched up with Federer well, as his career 10-9 record against him attests. It was never a lack of talent that held Murray back; rather, it was a lack of belief. Now that he has the belief, today’s semifinal should be a very interesting battle between two players who are in fantastic form at the moment.

On the court, Murray and Federer have always combined for stylistically pleasing, tactically challenging tennis. Both are clever players that love to use the full arsenal of shots in their bags, and when they meet they usually produce some interesting, cerebral tennis that is unique to their rivalry.

With so much on the line tomorrow, the intensity will be there. Let’s just hope that nerves don’t get in the way.

Murray has been imperious thus far in Australia, reaching the semifinals without the loss of a set, but it may not be the best omen for the World No. 3. The only other time Murray achieved that feat, at the 2010 Australian Open, he was unceremoniously ousted by Federer in a one-sided final that left him in tears, uttering the famous lines "I can cry like Roger, it's a shame I can't play like him."

Federer has been in fine form as well. He held serve for 57 consecutive games before getting involved in a quarterfinal scrape that lasted into the wee hours of the night with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Wednesday. Though he may be a little fatigued from the experience, a tense battle with the Frenchman might help Federer in the long run. He’ll also benefit from the fact that four of his five matches have been played at night, while Murray has yet to play a night session match.

But all this hypothesizing might be for naught. This semifinal will likely be decided by the player who makes the best shots in the points that really matter in the match. Who has spent less time on the court or what the angle of the sun was while each played their previous match will become nothing but background noise once the battle begins.

Pick: Federer in Four

Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci vs. Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua, 2nd match, Rod Laver Arena

The Italian World No. 1 tandem have been to four of the last five Grand Slam doubles finals, winning two of them. The Aussie pairing, which features 16-year-old Ashleigh Barty, have never been.

Barty and Dellacqua have had a good run, upsetting third-seeded Lisa Raymond and Maria Kirilenko in the third round then pretty much rolling from there. But the Italians may have had an even better run. They took out the Williams sisters in the quarters, and it’s hard to see this highly accomplished doubles team losing, even if their opponents are playing in their own back yard.

Pick: Errani and Vinci in two

Jarmila Gajdosova and Matthew Ebden vs. Yaroslava Shvedova and Denis Istomin, First Match, Rod Laver Arena

An all-Aussie pairing vs. a Kazakh and an Uzbek? Sounds like global warming to us, but in a good way.

Pick: Shvedova and Istomin in two


(Photo Credit: AP)


 

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