Federer vs Murray, a QF worthy of a major final

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 21, 2014 at 7:31 am •  Published: January 21, 2014
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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — As Roger Federer sees it, he and Andy Murray are making a comeback from a year of ups and downs.

That's putting it mildly.

For 32-year-old Federer, the winner of 17 Grand Slam titles, 2013 was the year that his tenure near the top went into sharp decline. He slipped out of the Top 5 and failed to reach a Grand Slam final for the first time since 2002. He struggled with back problems, split with his coach and it appeared that age was taking its toll.

For Murray, the year included a stupendous success. He won Wimbledon, becoming the first British man in 77 years to win the coveted title at the All England Club. A few months later he underwent back surgery that forced him to sit out the last three months of the season.

Both are now back, feeling fit and healthy as they prepare to face each other in the Australian Open quarterfinals Wednesday. It will be the first time they've played since last year's semifinal at Melbourne Park, a five-set battle won by Murray.

"This is a big test for me," said No. 6-seeded Federer, adding that he now feels fit enough to tackle big challenges. "I've overcome a lot in the last few months."

"I'm looking forward to the match, I must say. We had an interesting year last year with some ups and downs. It's a good start to the season for both of us."

When the tournament started a week ago, Federer was not among the favorites to win. But his return to Melbourne has marked a return of the old Federer — his graceful strokes and his ability to make incredible shots look effortless. But there are also elements of a new Federer. His back is better, he's testing out a new racket with a bigger head and has a new coach, six-time Grand Slam winner Stefan Edberg.

He's also been trying out some different tactics successfully, like rushing to the net. In his fourth-round match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Federer came to net 41 times and won 82 percent of those points.