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Miner Willy
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Yeah I read that and tried to find out about it, their own game-by-game had no mention. On R5 I was listening to the last set and after-match fuss, they were asking Warne in the crowd if he'd heard some "sledging" at about that point. But he had no idea what they were on about.

How do you stop in mid-rally and then hit the ball?

That Kevin Mitchell who wrote your quote though, he seems to always be seeking something controversial - writes a lot of their golf stuff and most of it seems to be looking for an angle to criticise Tiger Woods for anything he can think of.

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There's always a load of crap written about Federer and Murray's perceived coldness towards each other. I certainly don't think they love each other, but I'm sure it's nothing like is made out. Federer was a bit tetchy throughout the match - as much as I've seen probably since the 2009 US final against Del Potro. However, I suspect that's because he knew he was a) not in perfect physical condition, and b) likely to be up against it all night, given the conditions and Murray's standard of play. Federer is clearly a proud man and pretty accustomed to winning; he has been able to keep the young pretenders at arm's length for so long, but he's running out of time. He knows he was outplayed, and I suspect this was a tough one to swallow. The incident in question was a bit strange: Federer does shout something and Murray kind of sneers, but who knows whether Fed was shouting at Murray, and Murray was reacting to that. I never noticed anything in the rally itself, and people read a lot of stuff into expressions and the like. But even if that's what happened, all kinds of emotions will be surfacing through a match like this so I think it's a bit of a non-story really.

But anyway. I thought Murray was comfortably the better player almost from start to finish. It's actually pretty amazing it went as far as it did, and testament to Federer's (sometimes underrated) mental strength that he could push it that far, given that he was comprehensively outplayed pretty much as soon as a rally went beyond five strokes. It called to mind the 2007(?) Wimbledon final against Nadal, where Federer was often outplayed but came up with the goods in two tie-breakers. On that occasion he won the final set 6-2, but here he had nothing left - which I think surprised nobody by that stage.

This again felt like another significant step towards what seems an inevitable changing of the guard. It's not just about Federer's advancing age and Murray's coming into his prime: the game is undoubtedly changing. On these medium-paced Oz courts, combined with a night-time slot (as it always is for semis and final here, of course) it's not a high percentage strategy to shorten points against a mover as good as Murray - but it's the only option a player like Federer has.

That's not to take anything away from Murray - he was absolutely amazing for the most part. I actually thought Federer played well, yet Murray was clearly superior. It's a measure of how far Murray has come, and how well he now plays the big matches. But you can't ignore the fact that the game is changing, fueled by predominantly medium-paced courts and advancing racquet/string technology. It's increasingly a baseline grinder's tour, where the foundations for success are the ability to scrap your way through 30-shot rallies, and build from there. (It's no coincidence that Ferrer is a solid 5 in the world: he's Djokovic, Murray & Nadal, just without the offensive weapons which take them to such an extreme level). There's a lot more to it than that of course - these are undeniably incredible players - but playing three-strike tennis as Federer wants feels a lot like a losing battle in the age of Djokovic and Murray - they're just too quick, too strong, too good.

But while I'd like to see a bit more court variety, I don't want to end on that point. Murray was exceptional, and that was one of the very best performances I've seen from him. I'd put this above his performance in the Olympics final, considering how well Federer played today. Murray brutally dismantled his game at times, and only Federer's experience enabled him to dig in and avoid a drubbing. Murray has become the player so many people always believed he would and could be, and I remain convinced he will end the year as no.1.

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Nice comparison to this sodding Women's final, which is ghastly.

Why do the majority of the women players have such an aversion to holding their own serve?

It's so utterly depressing to watch...especially as you have to get over the constant wheezing of Azarenka.

Appalling - although I'm rooting for Li Na, seemingly because she's not offending my ears quite as much.

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The whole grunting thing is farcical and is just horrendous to watch or listen to when its on and i cant help feeling that its just a sideshow to the mens game which is utterly phenomenal to watch and constantly setting new standards.

Has there been anymore talk about this proposed strike (or argument at least) regarding the US Open and the prize money and moving the final to a monday night? The money issue seems a bit unneccesary they are very well paid (there may be more to it than that though) but the monday night final thing i can see why its an issue, its a daft bloody idea.

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Huge game. Probably one they will talk about as a turning point whoever wins this match. Djok will take great heart from winning a game he should have lost, but will Murray's confidence be dented by losing a game he was leading 0-40?

I suspect no more than Nole's was from his lost break points. The only bit that seemed to screw him up was the double fault.

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Murray was evidently a level below Djokovic physically today, couldn't quite keep up with him & that made all the difference. Unless he's having a bad day you have to be in absolute peak physical condition to have a chance of beating him, really. Still a great tournament from Murray, all told.

It remains to be seen how Nadal's knees will fare on his return, but there's little doubt that these two are going to be slugging it out for many of the major honours in the next 3 or 4 years.

The standard of men's tennis in this era has been a thing of absolute wonder. It's a true privilege to be able to witness it.

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I'm pretty sure I'm going against the grain here, but I didn't actually think it was that great a match, by recent standards. Fascinating and hugely impressive, certainly, but rarely thrilling.

Perhaps that's mainly because I was always fairly convinced Djokovic would win this one, even when Murray seemed to be on top early on, but I think there's something more to it than that. I think my slight problem here (and I appreciate I'm somewhat coloured by the type of tennis I enjoy most, and that this may not be a popular view) is that for me Djokovic-Murray is probably the least entertaining match-up of all those in the top four. Not to take anything away from either guy, but they're just a bit too similar, and in medium-speed conditions especially they seem to nullify each other too effectively for either to be able to genuinely dictate the patterns of play. I thought yesterday's match was phenomenally impressive tennis on so many levels, and it genuinely does feel like the pair of them are taking the hard court game to a new level, but there were times when it was a bit too much of a slog, with neither player really able to assert their offensive weapons over their opponent's ridiculous defensive skills.

It's almost like they have become too good on this surface. They both line up primarily as counter-punchers, and because they move so well, and are so adept at returning the ball with depth and pace even when pushed wide and deep, that one of them needs to hit three or four near-perfect shots to even create an exploitable opening.

It's fascinating to watch, and of course an astonishing display of technical skill and physical conditioning, but on that surface I'd say it impresses more then it thrills. The patterns of play seemed to open out in the latter stages, but by then the match was evidently going away from Murray, so the excitement wasn't really there. I'm not saying it's always that way, as their US Open final was superb, and I'd be very keen to see them play on clay and especially grass, but I do think this wasn't quite the amazing match we had hoped it would be.

Still, Djokovic really is incredible on this surface. Murray had chances of course, but it always seemed to me that Djokovic would find a way to come through.

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No, the Djokovic vs Wawrinka or Almagro vs Ferrer games were much better to watch. Both players came off as a little too passive to me, I was certain Murray was going to win it until he lost those break points, but once that happened he struggled to impose himself on Djokovjc and seemed to always run out if patience in the rallies. Can't wait for the clay court season now, really want to see a fit Nadal play these two.

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  • 3 months later...

With the seedings as they are, the draw for the French will be especially significant this year. Murray being out makes Ferrer a viable dark horse winner for me, since he's up to 4th and therefore can't meet the top guys before the semis. Clearly Nadal and Djokovic are most likely winners (and there's almost no chance of Nadal losing to anyone but Djokovic), but there's a 50% chance those two will be in the same half. You can make a decent case for Djokovic coming through that side of the draw, and being fairly beat up as a result of playing Rafa. If that happens, whoever is in the other half is in prime position to take advantage, and nobody is better equipped (or playing better) than Ferrer. Stranger things have happened.

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As good as Ferrer is, he rarely even gets close to Djokovic or Nadal does he? At least in any match that matters much. (this is a more casual impression than you're likely to have, I freely admit)

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He was two points from beating Nadal in a Masters 1,000 on clay the other week, so he's absolutely got the game. Of course there's not much chance he would beat Nadal at the French, but the point here is that he wouldn't have to. It's 50/50 that Djokovic and Nadal are in the same half, and Djokovic is a reasonable bet to beat Nadal in that scenario.

Ferrer has a decent record against Djokovic (I actually think a winning record on clay). You'd still make Djokovic favourite in any encounter between the two, but Ferrer definitely has a shot - and even more so if Djokovic is coming in off the back of a five hour marathon semi against Nadal. More of a problem to Ferrer might be Federer being in his half in that scenario (Ferrer has never beaten Fed), but I'm far from convinced of Federer's form or clay court game at this stage. I wouldn't necessarily bet on him making the semis unless the draw is kind.

Nadal and Djokovic are of course clearly the standout favourites, but Ferrer is a worthy dark horse to actually win it, which is pretty exciting I think. I've always felt he will one day get a chance to win a slam when the dice fall right for him, and this could be the moment.

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