By Alexandra Willis at the O2 Arena
22 November 2010
Tennis fans are rallying behind Andy Murray to extend his winning streak over Roger Federer at the O2, after the Scot dismantled Robin Soderling in two superb sets in his opening match at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Murray, who in the build-up to the event confessed himself to be feeling extremely fresh mentally and physically, brushed away the Swede’s challenge in front of an excited crowd in North Greenwich, standing himself in good stead ahead of the second round robin encounter with the former world No.1. The Scot has beaten Federer eight times out of their 13 encounters, most recently in the final of the ATP Masters 1000 event in Shanghai, and the final of the ATP Masters 1000 in Toronto. The Swiss’s last win against Murray came in the final of the Australian Open in January.
“Murray’s record against Federer speaks for itself,” commented Alex Donohue of Ladbrokes, who are offering odds of 11/10 that the British No.1 will beat Federer. “I played very smart tennis,” Murray said after the Soderling match. “Even when it was getting tough in the second set, with a lot of long rallies and I was on the defensive a lot, I stuck to my tactics. I had to do a lot of running.” Despite the quality of Murray’s play yesterday, he’s under no illusions that he’ll have to perform to a similar standard to come close to a ninth victory over Federer. “Every time you play against Roger, it’s tough. I played great against Robin but I could play horrible against Roger. I need to make sure I practice well before then, give myself the best chance to play well. If I do that, I’ll have a chance of winning.”
But the world No.2, who staved off a late challenge from Spaniard David Ferrer to win his first group match 6-1, 6-4, has other ideas. The Swiss has won 30 out of 34 matches since his shock loss to Tomas Berdych at Wimbledon, and appears to be returning to his best form. “Here we go again; it’s a repeat of last year, which I was able to win,” he said. “We both played well at the Australian, then we played well in Toronto. We both played well in Shanghai. Here it seems like we’re both playing well. I’m playing well, so I’m excited about the match.”
And lest we think the father-of-two is getting soft in his old age, Federer soon reminded us who’s boss. “He has the Toronto and Shanghai tournament victories but I have been a bit more consistent than he has, otherwise I wouldn’t be in front in the rankings. He has had a great season and it will be a great match.”
Murray takes on Federer in the afternoon singles match on Tuesday at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
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