The Sunday Leader

‘Unexceptional’ Federer Issues Warning To Murray

Roger Federer

Roger Federer played down his destruction of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to reach the Australian Open final as “not exceptional”, then cheekily reminded Andy Murray of the weight of British expectation ahead of their title bout.

“I’m happy. I played solid. I didn’t play exceptional. I did enough and I’m through. It’s nice,” the world number one said in a courtside interview after obliterating the Frenchman 6-2 6-3 6-2 in just 88 minutes.

“No wasted energy that’s for sure … I’m very surprised at how the match went. I expected differently. Perhaps today was one of those days when he needed that first set. When I got it maybe his head went down.”

The 15-times grand slam champion’s masterclass to dispatch 10th-ranked Tsonga carried Federer into his 22nd major final and his eighth in a row.

It was also the perfect reply to Andy Murray’s dazzling semi-final win over Croatian Marin Cilic, which has raised Britain’s hopes of ending a 74-year wait for a men’s grand slam champion to fever pitch.

Federer, who shed bitter tears after his loss to arch-rival Rafa Nadal in last year’s final, was all smiles when asked to look ahead to Sunday’s showdown against the 22-year-old Scot.

“I know he’d like to win the first for British tennis in … what is it? Like 150,000 years?” he joked.

“The poor guy has to go through those moments over and over again. He’s done tremendously. We match up well. I’m looking forward to the final.”

Federer has already won the Australian Open three times, while Murray has one grand slam final appearance to his name — a straight-sets humbling to the Swiss maestro at Flushing Meadows in 2008.

Murray will need little reminding of the disparity, but Federer was happy to oblige.
“Look, he’s in his second grand slam final now,” he told reporters.

“I think the first one’s always a bit tougher than the second. But now that he didn’t win the first one, I think doesn’t help for the second one around.

“Plus he’s playing me, who’s won many grand slams prior to that, been able to win here three times so I know what it takes and how to do it, which is definitely an advantage.

“I don’t feel like the pressure’s really on me having to do it again, because I did it before. I think he really needs it more than I do, you know.

“But we’ll see how he’s gonna handle it. It’s not going to be easy for him, that’s for sure.”

Federer did pause briefly, however, when reminded of his 4-6 win-loss record against Murray.

“First of all, he’s a good player,” said the 28-year-old, who has won the last two outings against the Scot.

“But, no, without taking anything away from him, I think a few times he played me I wasn’t at my very, very best. That’s why I don’t really care too much about how the head to head stands. Every match is played differently.”

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