Well, you knew Federer had the edge after the first game. Murray came into the match hoping to keep up a streak that has meant a winning record over Federer in the past few years. With a new coach, Ivan Lendl, Murray had elevated his game. He beat Novak Djokovic who, frankly, was not looking spectacularly sharp. Last year, it wouldn’t have mattered. 80% Djokovic would have won.
In the meanwhile, Federer has looked unusually sharp since the Australian Open as evidenced by his victory against del Potro in Rotterdam. He used a similar strategy to outwit Murray, trying to pressure him to the edges. When Federer is on these days, he’s creating better angles than he ever has. He’s steadier off that “vulnerable” backhand. In this match, Federer was willing to play longer rallies, which usually means he’s in pretty good health. You know something is bothering Federer if he shortens the points almost always.
Murray, by contrast, was struggling with keeping the ball in play. Late in the first set, Murray was down 15-40, managed to tie it at deuce, but was unable to hold. With that break, Federer was able to claim the first set. Federer got an early break in the second set, but Murray managed to break back again, before Federer played another good game to break. Murray tried to come back at 5-4 down, but Federer’s aggressive forehand was too much.
Murray basically played a shallow angle to Federer’s backhand, but Federer’s backhand didn’t buckle and this eventually allowed Federer to attack with his inside out forehand, including one to punctuate match point.
Federer wins, 75, 64.
We should see both players in Indian Wells along with Nadal and Djokovic.