Federer beats Murray for fifth Dubai title
DUBAI—Roger Federer underlined his status as an enduring front line contender with the 72nd title of his career which extended his record of Dubai Open trophies to five with victory over Andy Murray on Saturday.
The 16-time former Grand Slam champion from Switzerland overcame the triple Grand Slam finalist from Britain 7-5, 6-4 in a tightly-contested final in which Federer escaped an early mini-crisis and then resisted a Murray mini-comeback.
During that period, Federer’s sequence of 66 unbroken service games came to an end, but he was slightly the more assertive player and his success brought him his 33rd win in 35 matches and his second title in succession.
“It’s beautiful winning this,” Federer said.
“It’s such a difficult tournament with so many top ten players, and Andy having such a huge victory getting to the final,” he added, referring to Murray’s semi-final victory over world number one Novak Djokovic.
“It was a quick court and a there was a bit of breeze and I though we both played pretty well. I got a bit lucky and played really well on the big points, and I had a wonderful tournament.
“I’ve had a great start to the season, and a great finish to last season, so I hope I can keep it up. But there are a lot of guys who are going to play tremendous as well.”
Murray missed a decent chance to make a decisive thrust when he had Federer at 15-40 in the sixth game.
The first of these break points offered Murray a decent chance of converting, but unaccountably he replied to Federer’s three-quarter length slightly sliced ball by over-hitting a flat backhand drive.
Murray was also at the focus of the game’s most unusual incident, appealing for a Hawkeye replay twice on the same point, when his first serves were called faults – and both times proving the line judge wrong.
He followed it with a slightly caustic aside to umpire Mohamed Lahyani, in which he appeared to refer to the Hawkeye controversy two days previously when Tomas Berdych’s failed return of serve stood after an incorrect service line judge call.
And Murray followed that with an ace as if to justify himself. But by allowing Federer to escape from his early crisis, he had stored up trouble.
The four-times former champion continued with his unblemished serving record — standing at 58 unbroken games before this match — and then broke Murray for 6-5.
It happened with the help of a mis-hit return of serve, which set up a comfortable passing opportunity for Federer, but by then much of the damage had been done because Federer had been allowed to rebuild his momentum.
This continued in a slightly higher, smoother gear in the second set, in which Federer this time broke much earlier, in the third game, getting him to 2-1 and then 3-1 when he consolidated it.
Again a Hawkeye decision played an important role. Murray thought he had got to 30-40 with an ace, but the replay showed it as a fault and Federer capitalised with a rally in which he lured the Scot into angling a backhand drive wide.
Murray then brought Federer’s great serving run came to an end — after 66 unbroken games.
It happened when Federer made one slightly arrogant and another rather optimistic approach to the net, and found Murray lobbing him both times.
On one the great man was forced to turn and run, only for Murray to punish him with a deftly angled drop volley; on the other Federer tried a hopeful high backhand overhead volley and saw it fall into the net.
That got Murray back to 3-3 and when he then escaped from break point down to reach 4-3 a long match seemed possible.
But Federer took advantage of a moderate Murray service game at 4-4, producing one delightful approach and stop-volley combination, and on his second break point forcing Murray to drive into the net.
At 5-4 there was rarely much doubt that Federer would close it out.
“I had a couple of wins,” said Murray, referring to his successes against Djokovic and Tomas Berdych. “It was always going to be a challenge against Federer.
“I was happy to reach the final, though I would like to have gone one better. I think most of the crowd wanted him to win, but it was a great atmosphere.”
Federer concluded: “It is wonderful to win five. It’s only happened at a handful of tournaments maybe in my career.”