Federer’s 16th Grand Slam title proves he’s the greatest ever

Somehow, Federer just keeps getting better. After beating Andy Murray 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (11) in the 2010 Australian Open final, I now have a new appreciation for the most dominant tennis player of all time. He looked absolutely phenomenal over the course of the 2 hour and 41 minute match, never losing that perplexing calm that’s fascinated fans and irritated opponents for years. This is Federer’s 16th Grand Slam title overall, and that obviously justifies his talent. But it was the way he ambushed Andy Murray on the big stage that should make people perk up and realize his greatness.

Watching the 22-year-old Murray struggle from the opening set put everything in perspective. When Federer was that age, he broke through at the 2003 Wimbledon to capture his first Grand Slam championship. That was his first appearance in a Grand Slam final, and he’s found his way into 21 of the last 26 since then. He knew that this is where he belonged. While Murray certainly belongs as well, I can no longer claim that he deserves a championship. Before meeting Federer, Murray walked over all of his opponents at this tournament, only once needing to take a match past three sets (his semifinal against Marin Cilic). It was an admirable run, but given the lack of wear and tear, I expected him to come out fresh and energetic in the final. About to drop the second set, Murray began to grab his right leg in between points. Murray was seen nursing different areas, whether it be his thigh, knee, or toe. Still, it never seemed legitimate. When things started to go his way during the third set, the pain suddenly sufficed. Strange how that happens. Whimpering like Murray did suggests that you’re only losing because you’re not at full strength. Federer has far too much pride to pull something like that. When facing a large deficit, he simply relies on his talent to get him back in the match.

Of course, Murray wouldn’t have been whimpering if the first place if he were in control from the beginning. In his quarterfinal victory over Rafael Nadal, Murray never mellowed his attack, serving with accuracy and hitting with aggression during volleys. What happened to that confidence in the biggest match of his life? During those first two sets, Murray served terribly, had weak groundstrokes, and cracked under pressure at the net. Playing defensively, he curiously waited for Federer to make mistakes, which didn’t happen enough. When he turned up the intensity in the third set, it was far too late.

Noticing his opponent’s retreat, Federer was free to strike at will, landing 28 winners compared to Murray’s 12. As Murray stuck to the baseline, Federer employed drop shots and came to the net. He completely owned the court. As for his serve, it was staggering as usual.

I don’t know when exactly Federer is going to relinquish his crown, but if his recent performance against Andy Murray is any indication, it shouldn’t be for a while.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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