Federer wins 16th major, prolongs British drought
MELBOURNE, Australia – Roger Federer felt awkward for a moment, celebrating his 16th Grand Slam title while Andy Murray cried for Britain.
Federer timed his run to perfection at the season’s first major, beating fifth-seeded Murray 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (11) in the Sunday night final to collect his fourth Australian Open title.
A year ago, Federer was sobbing after a five-set loss to Rafael Nadal at Melbourne Park. He’d missed a chance to equal Pete Sampras’ record of 14 Grand Slams, compounding an emotional few weeks.
Since then he finally won on clay at the French Open to complete a career Grand Slam of all four majors and equal Sampras’ record. Then he triumphed at Wimbledon for his 15th record title. He also became a father of twins.
This time, it was Murray who was fighting tears after missing a chance to become the first British man since 1936 to win a major.
Federer, however, enjoys making history. This was his 22nd Grand Slam final, his 18th in the last 19, and he compared this triumph with last year’s Wimbledon win.
“This felt similar in a way, because all of a sudden it was over and it hit me,” he said. “It was very much a rollercoaster with the emotions. I guess the match point was over, and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, this is it. It was great.”
Not so much for Murray, who drew deep breaths as he apologized for failing to end a 74-year-old drought for British men.
“Firstly, congratulations Roger, his achievements in tennis are incredible,” he said. “He was a lot better than me tonight.
“Hopefully, one time I can come back and win here,” he added, his voice breaking. “I got great support back home the last couple of weeks. Sorry I couldn’t do it for you tonight but …”
Murray could barely finish his thank you, explaining: “I can cry like Roger; it’s just a shame I can’t play like him.”
Both the crowd and Federer embraced Murray’s display of emotion.
“In a way it was hard to watch, but at the same time I like seeing players who care for the game,” Federer said. “It’s nice to see, you know. So you wish only the best for him.”
And Federer, who had to be consoled by Nadal last year, offered Murray some reassurance.
“Well done for your incredible tournament; you played it fantastic,” Federer said. “You’re too good of a player not to win a Grand Slam, so don’t worry about it.”
Federer dropped serve only twice in the match and hit 46 winners. He said he felt as good as ever.
“I’m over the moon winning this again. I think I played some of my best tennis in my life these last two weeks,” he said.
Federer saved five set points and wasted two match points in the tiebreaker with some uncharacteristic shot selection before clinching it when Murray netted a backhand after 2 hours, 41 minutes.
Murray was desperate to become the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win one of the four tennis majors, but seldom had the answers to Federer’s unrivaled finals experience. He set a record for British men just by reaching two major finals in the Open era.
“I don’t feel great,” Murray said. “I think it was more the way the end of the match finished … Obviously, it was pretty emotional end to the match.
“If it was a complete blowout, if I lost 3, 4, and 2, you know, it probably wouldn’t have happened. But I had my chance to get back into the match. That was probably why I was upset.”
Federer also beat Murray in straight sets in the 2008 U.S. Open final, the only previous meeting between the pair at a Grand Slam.
Murray still holds a 6-5 advantage over Federer in career head-to-heads – one of only four players who can boast such an advantage – but has lost the last three.
Last year, Federer had just discovered – unknown widely at the time – that he was to be the father of twins.
The emotions bubbled over after his loss to Nadal. But he recovered from that defeat to win at the French Open.
He won Wimbledon before his twin daughters were born. Federer reached his fourth Grand Slam final of the year at the U.S. Open, only to lose in an upset to Juan Martin del Potro.
Federer ensured no recurrence of the upset here, though, adding the 2010 title to his wins at Melbourne Park in 2004, 2006 and ’07, becoming only the fifth man to win four Australian titles.
American Andre Agassi, who won the last of his four here in 2003, was the last father to win a Grand Slam title.
“It’s also very special the first Grand Slam as a father,” Federer said as his wife, Mirka, smiled and clapped from the stands, almost crying herself. “You get the best out of me.”
Federer got on top early, taking a 2-0 lead. But Murray broke back immediately with consecutive passing shots – one which the Swiss star even had to applaud.
Federer had to save three break points in the fifth game before holding with back-to-back aces. He then broke Murray in the eighth game, lifting his intensity in perfect time so that he could serve for the set.
Federer dominated the second set after breaking Murray’s serve in the third game, but his intensity dropped slightly in the third.
Murray pounced, taking a 5-2 lead before Federer rallied again, winning four of the next five games to force the tiebreaker.
After saving three set points, Federer missed his first chance to finish it off when his curling forehand just missed the line.
His unusual decision to try a drop shot at 10-9 backfired when Murray surged to the net and put a winner over Federer’s head.
The Swiss saved another set point, then converted his third match point.
In the mixed doubles final, Leander Paes and Cara Black beat Ekaterina Makarova and Jaroslav Levinsky 7-5, 6-3 for the Australian title.
The top seeds fared well at the Australian Open, with Serena Williams defending her singles title over Justine Henin and combining with her sister Venus Williams to win doubles – the sisters were seeded No. 2.
Another set of American siblings won the men’s doubles, with twins Bob and Mike Bryan beating Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic.