Roger Federer was the dominant figure in men’s tennis between 2004 and 2007, winning an incredible 42 ATP titles and losing 24 matches! The Swiss couldn’t keep up with the same pace in 2008, pushed to the limit by the new generation led by Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
Novak dethroned Roger at the Australian Open and Andy followed suit in Dubai a month later. Murray defeated Federer 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 55 minutes in a rare first round matchup between two top 11 players! Dubai assembled a powerful field that year, and Andy failed to make the seeding despite being on the brink of the top 10!
It was his third meeting and the second win for the 20-year-old Brit, who never faced a break chance in the entire match, stuck to his plan and outplayed the Swiss in crucial moments. Federer put up a good fight in the first set and came back from 5-2 down in the tie break.
However, he couldn’t keep up with his opponent in the next two, dropping a serve in each to kick off one of his favorite tournaments, where he’s won four titles in the last five years. Andy served only 55%, but defended his second serve very well and scored 48 of 53 points after landing the first serve!
The youngster outperformed Roger in the shorter and medium rallies, while the Swiss had a slight advantage in the longer rallies, although in theory it should have been the other way around. It also marked Federer’s earliest loss since Indian Wells 2007, and he wasn’t happy about it, especially Andy’s defensive style of play.
They needed just over 25 minutes to complete the first ten games, with excellent hitting on both sides and no opportunities for returners. The set went into a tiebreaker where Andy built a 5-2 lead before Roger moved back up to 5-5 after his young opponent’s forehand error.
The Swiss saved a set point at 5-6 with a serve winner and hit another for his first set point.
Marc Rosset comments on Federer
Former 9th player in the world and one of Roger Federer’s relatives, Marc Rosset gave an interesting anecdote about his young compatriot during his appearance on Tennis Podcast.
“I remember the first time I trained with him. He was the new Swiss talent, but he was so lazy. Usually when you train on the circuit as a youngster you are a little stressed, you want to play well, you are very nervous. This guy came onto the court like he didn’t care at all. I was like, ‘Wow'”