photo credit:Not enough megapixels
The Men’s Singles Final will be played on Sunday 31 January at 7:30pm Melbourne time. The centre court in Melbourne is called the Rod Laver Arena where the great champion of men’s tennis, No.1 seed Roger Federer will be going for his 16th Grand Slam Singles title and his opponent is the No.5 seed Andy Murray of Scotland.
The final promises to be a great clash with the 2 “in form” players of the tournament set to collide at full speed for their 11th head to head battle on the men’s tour. Murray leads with 6 wins to 4 including 4 of their past 6 matches against each other. So he has proven that he CAN beat Federer.
The 2010 Australian Open Men’s Singles Final is their 1st meeting ever at this tournament and only their 2nd meeting in a Grand Slam tournament. The first Grand Slam match up was also in a final at the 2008 US Open in which the 28 year old Federer won in 3 straight sets 6-2, 7-5, 6-2.
The 22 year old Murray’s best result to date in a Grand Slam was that 2008 US Open final. Murray has improved in numerous facets of the game since then, illustrated by the fact that he beat Federer 4 times in a row after losing the US Open final match.
Australian Open 2010 is the first time that 1.90 metre Murray has made it past the round of 16 in Melbourne. The semi final was the first time that Murray lost a set in this tournament. It was the 1st set of the match that he lost against No.14 seed Marin Cilic before winning the next 3 sets.
Federer has the experience and proven consistency in being able to perform in THE biggest matches. Federer is playing in an ATP Tour men’s record 22nd Grand Slam Singles final. The 1.85 metre champion from Switzerland has won 3 Australian Open titles thus far (2004, 2006 & 2007), made the semi finals twice (2005 & 2008) and was runner up last year in 5 sets to Rafael Nadal.
In the semi finals Federer was far more impressive and dominating than Murray. The Swiss won in 3 straight sets against No.10 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 in just 88 minutes. Tsonga looked more like Jo “the Fried-Will” Tsonga in comparison to his fantastic play to win through his first two ever 5 set matches. Tsonga won back to back 5 set matches against No.3 seed Novak Djokovic and No.26 seed Nicolas Almagro (by 9 games to 7 in the final set!).
Both Roger and Andy have not spent that much time on court and have had a days rest in Federer’s case and 2 days rest in Murray’s case. Therefore, neither player will be “gone” if they drop the 1st set. A fade out like Djokovic against Tsonga should not occur as both will well and truly have enough reserves to stand up to the physical challenge of, hopefully, a 5 set match.
The mental battle is always a decisive factor in tennis matches and the men’s final will be no exception. Federer has to push himself mentally by challenging himself in a number of key ways that allow his best tennis to occur. If he cannot manage to maintain this mindset throughout he could easily slip back into playing too passively, defensively and without enough aggression. This is possible for the relaxed Federer considering how much he has already achieved.
The mental struggle and problem we foresee for Murray is that he must overcome the enormous pressure to win. This includes the constant expectations of himself and the British Press to become the first British player since Fred Perry to win a Grand Slam singles title. Perry won the 1936 US Open. Not to mention the fact that ONLY IF Murray wins the Australian Open final then he will earn 50 million pounds per year!
If Murray serves very well by making a high percentage of 1st serves “in” and especially in key situations then he could win the final in straight sets. Unfortunately for Murray the reliability of his 1st serve working is one of his weaknesses but he only needs to serve well for one match – tomorrow’s final. Will he have an “on” day or not?
We are hoping for a close competitive match where both players display the high level of tennis, great variety of shots and positive attacking play that earned them their 6 wins each to get to the final. Last time round Murray played 3 days in a row before losing in the 2008 US Open final, that is certainly not the case this time.
Murray certainly has the ability to win especially given that he has achieved more including the World No.2 ranking, than a number of other players who have broken through to a Grand Slam final. Murray has been thereabouts for some time. If he does manage to defeat the mental demons then he will definitely deserve to be a Grand Slam Singles Champion.
Federer has dropped only 2 sets; both times it was the 1st set of the match in the 1st round against Igor Andreev and in the quarter final against No.6 seed Nikolay Davydenko.
Both Murray and Federer are physically fresh and obviously have no problem in coming back from losing the 1st set so the match will not be over until match point has been converted.
The critical factors will be: who can show the mental fortitude and discipline to overcome their inner struggles, who can be aggressive and maintain the right balance of attacking play and how well both players serve.
Federer has a knack of serving really well when he is being outplayed in the other areas of the game. Just as he did when he beat Andy Roddick 16-14 in the 5th set of the 2009 Wimbledon final. Federer has the advantage in being more consistently able to get himself into the zone and serve really well when he needs it most.
I do not remember a player under so much pressure to win the final. This will make it very difficult for Murray to stay relaxed enough to serve well and deal with missed opportunities that happen in most matches. The OCA prediction is Federer in 4 sets.
For more coverage and information about the 2010 Australian Open on this tennis website click this link -> Australian Open 2010: Jan 13-31.
© OnCourtAdvantage.com 2010