Andy Murray is just two wins away from clinching a hat-trick of Shanghai Masters’ titles. The problem is that the World numbers one and two lie in his way.
Roger Federer awaits Murray in this semi-final (12pm, BST Saturday) and should he win that then in all likeliness he would face Novak Djokovic in the final.
Being the consummate professional that he is, and with the hard-nosed Ivan Lendl as his coach, Murray won’t have thought about the final but just about his nemesis Federer.
Although Murray has never beaten the great Federer in a Grand Slam final, the way he dismantled the Swiss star in the final of the Olympics showed the lanky Scot’s exceptional temperament. He has come on leaps and bounds since teaming up with Czech-born Lendl.
That victory led into a maiden Grand Slam title as Murray clinched the US Open crown later in the summer with a monumental effort over the defending champion Novak Djokovic. Murray, Federer and Djokovic have dominated men’s tennis since the second round of Wimbledon, winning every big competition except the Japanese Open. Rafael Nadal will not be returning until next year.
Murray has not been in the greatest form since returning to the court after his US Open triumph. Last week at the Japanese Open he lost in the semi-final to the Canadian Milos Raonic in three sets, a player that he had dismissed with disdain in the 4th round of the US Open.
Even at this week’s Shanghai Masters he is yet to hit top gear and after a bye and a walkover, Murray has only played two matches to reach the semi-finals. A comfortable victory over Alexandr Dolgopolov was followed by a very rusty victory over Radek Stepanek in three sets. After losing the first set to his Czech opponent, Murray claimed the second set and then battled back from a break down in the third to set up a 17th meeting with Roger Federer and a fourth this year.
In celebrating his 300th week as World No.1, Roger Federer will want to make it all the more special by lifting the Shanghai Masters before the season moves indoors, much to the delight of the Swiss maestro.
Federer will also want to gain revenge over Murray for the 6-2 6-1 6-4 thrashing that he was given in the Gold Medal match at the London Olympics. A singles Gold Medal was about the only thing missing from Federer’s collection and that loss would have hurt. There are three big tournaments left this year: this Shanghai Masters, the Paris Masters and the London Tour Finals. After being knocked out of the US Open in the quarter-finals, Federer needs to win at least one of the three in order to retain his No.1 ranking. He has already won three Masters Series titles this year and if he wins one more then he will overtake Nadal’s haul.
Roger Federer v Andy Murray Betting Tips
Murray has beaten Federer twice at the Shanghai Masters in 2008 and 2010 and he did win their last meeting. But Federer has looked the far more in form player in his victories over Lu, Wawrinka and Cilic.
I take Federer to win in straight sets and advise these bets: