MELBOURNE // Roger Federer has shrugged off the suggestion Andy Murray's trouble-free route to the Australian Open semi-finals gives the Scot the slight edge in what promises to be a close-fought encounter today.
Murray has spent just under nine hours on court in winning five matches - almost two hours less than the Swiss, who was also embroiled in a five-set tussle with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Wednesday.
Federer came through 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 3-6, 6-3 and, while the 17-time major winner would happily have avoided spending so long on Rod Laver Arena, he said playing longer matches can also have its advantages.
"I would rather be in his shoes," said Federer, "that's exactly how you want to approach a semi-final, in my opinion.
"But there are also some positives to take out of a five-set match. I toughed it out and that gives you confidence when you have to go through those moments. The physical stamina was there, the focus was there till the very end. So it does give you a lot of confidence moving forward from here."
Murray has won 10 of their 19 meetings but has never beaten Federer in a grand slam.
Indeed, on their last two meetings at a major - the 2010 final here and the Wimbledon final last year - Murray has been reduced to tears by Federer's brilliance.
Murray did enjoy two notable wins in 2012, though, beating Federer to Olympic gold in London and then edging him out in the Shanghai Masters semi-final.
The world No 2 took revenge in the last four of the World Tour Finals in November as their personal rivalry increased in intensity.
Federer claims it is a match-up he has relished over the years, especially now Murray's game has evolved into a more attacking style.
"I've always enjoyed playing against him because it tends to get very tactical," he said.
"It has never been a straightforward match. He would make you doubt [yourself] and play very different to the rest of the guys. I always enjoyed that, when it's just not every point being the same. We mix it up against each other.
"Now it's changed a bit because he's playing more offensive. The rallies aren't as long and as gruelling as they used to be."
Federer confirmed he would study their recent encounters prior to today's rematch.
"I think the Wimbledon and Olympic finals and also the World Tour Finals and Shanghai, I'll probably be looking at those with my coaches and go from there," he said.
Murray is trying to make history as the first man in the Open era to back up his first grand slam title triumph by winning the next major as well.
And he reiterated how his US Open success last year has altered his mindset heading into the later stages in Melbourne.
"I probably feel a little bit calmer than usual," said Murray, who has yet to drop a set so far. "But I still have an understanding of how difficult it is to win these events."
Ferrer fails to move Djokovic
David Ferrer is used to being called a brick wall, not having his head rammed into one.
The fifth-seeded Spaniard tried everything he could to unsettle world No 1 Novak Djokovic in their Australian Open semi-final yesterday but was ruthlessly dismissed 6-2, 6-2, 6-1.
“I didn’t have any chance to win tonight, nothing else to say,” Ferrer said. “He was better than me in all the moments.”
Renowned as one of the fastest players on the Tour, Ferrer hustled and harried but to no avail; Djokovic was better in every department of the game.
Bigger, faster, stronger and perhaps even fitter, when Ferrer looked at Djokovic across the net he would have seen a more developed version of himself.
“I never lost like this,” he said. “It’s been a good three weeks for me, to be in the semi-finals.
“Of course I am not happy with my tennis tonight, but I would prefer to play worse in the semi-finals than in the first round.”
Ferrer will move above Rafael Nadal to become world No 4 on Monday, but if ever there was an example of how big a gulf there is between the current top four and the rest, Djokovic provided it.
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