Five things we learned from Federer-Murray

January, 31, 2010
1/31/10
2:16
AM ET
MELBOURNE, Australia -- A match that promised so much didn't really live up to its hype. Thank, mostly, Roger Federer for that.

Federer dumped Andy Murray 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (11) in the Australian Open final on Sunday to extend his record tally of men's major titles to 16. Murray's Slam drought continues, as does Great Britain's.

Here are five things we learned from the men's final:

1. Federer is no dummy

Federer was accused of sour grapes when he put down Murray's defensive style on Friday. But he wasn't wrong. If Federer attacks and is on his game, he'll beat the Scot more often than not.

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In the first two sets of the final, Murray hit a combined 12 winners compared to Federer's 28. The aggressiveness that Murray showed against Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals was nowhere to be seen until the third set Sunday.

Perhaps it's easier to play aggressively against Nadal than Federer, but getting the first big strike on the ball in a rally sends the Swiss backward.

Unlike in the Nadal match, Murray rarely served and volleyed -- once to be exact.

2. Murray's serve is still off

Murray needed a good serving performance to keep Federer at bay, and guess what? That deserted him, too.

Murray's combined first-serve percentage was 57. And in the first two sets, he hit only two aces.

Then in the tiebreaker, Murray connected on four of 12 first serves.

"I didn't serve well the first set," Murray told reporters, adding he thought he did better thereafter.

On the other hand, Federer served at 66 percent for the match.

3. Fed has no hard feelings, we think

Federer's verbal volleys toward Murray on Friday suggested he doesn't like the 22-year-old all that much, but at least he paid him a bit of respect early in the final.

After Murray hit an astounding two-handed backhand down the line from well out of position, Federer applauded -- something he normally doesn't do.

But Murray missed similar shots the entire evening, the kind he had made in thrilling fashion against Nadal and Marin Cilic in the semis. Although he was comfortable at the net, his volleys were off. Touch shots, such as drops, also went astray.

Murray made 36 unforced errors, which was high for him. (He made 29 in four sets versus Cilic.)

4. Murray isn't discouraged

Barring a fabulous clay-court season, Murray won't be one of the favorites to win the French Open. And playing on grass takes some getting used to, even if he reached the semifinals at Wimbledon in 2009.

So Murray's only other real shot at a major this season might come at the U.S. Open, where he lost to Federer in the 2008 final.

"I worked really, really hard to try to do it and give myself the opportunity," Murray said. "So far it hasn't been good enough. But I'm sure one day it will be. When it comes, maybe because of the two losses, it will be even better."

5. The umps love Hawk-Eye

Enric Molina, Sunday's umpire, had a pretty quiet time in the chair, just the way he would have wanted. There was no swearing from Fed this time.

But in the first set, Murray asked Molina about a ball that was called long. Molina, in a line often uttered by officials sitting on the fence, said it was "very close."

Not really. It was astray by some distance, relatively speaking.

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