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 could not follow the same pace in 2008, pushed to the limits by the new generation led by Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
Novak dethroned Roger a the Australian Open, and Andy did the same in Dubai a month later. Murray toppled Federer 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 55 minutes in an unusual first-round encounter between two top-11 players! Dubai gathered powerful field that year, and Andy could not be among the seeded players despite standing on the verge of the top-10!
It was their third meeting and the second win for the 20-year-old Briton, who never faced a break chance in the entire encounter, sticking to his plan and overpowering the Swiss in the crucial moments. Federer fought well in the first set and came from 5-2 down in the tie break.
However, he could not stay on the same level with the rival in the following two, losing serve once in each to hit the exit door at one of his favorite tournaments, where he won four titles in the last five years. Andy served at only 55% but defended his second serve nicely while taking 48 out of 53 points after landing the first serve in!
The youngster outplayed Roger in the shortest and mid-range exchanges, while the Swiss had a slim advantage in the longer rallies, although it should have been the other way around in theory. It also marked Federer’s earliest defeat since Indian Wells 2007, and he was not pleased about it, especially with Andy’s defensive style of play.
Roger Federer lost to Andy Murray in Dubai 2008 opening round.
They needed just over 25 minutes to complete the first ten games, with some excellent hitting on both sides and no chances for the returners. The set went into a tie break where Andy built a 5-2 lead before Roger climbed back to 5-5 after his young opponent’s forehand error.
The Swiss saved a set point at 5-6 with a service winner and hit another for his first set point. He seized it with a solid forehand attack that Murray failed to control, eager to break Andy’s rhythm as soon as possible in set number two and deliver the finishing stroke.
Federer reached deuce on the return in game three, but Andy avoided further troubles after Roger’s two errors, which proved very costly. Murray created his first break point at 3-2 and blasted a crosscourt forehand winner to gain the lead and move in front.
Andy held at love to open a 5-2 gap and fired a service winner at 5-3 to gain a boost ahead of the decider. Roger was far from his best and had to save two break points at the start of the final set to remain in contention, desperately needing a few efficient return games.
The Swiss netted an easy forehand that could have given him the first break chance in game two, and Andy held after two deuces to stay competitive. In game five, Murray made a decisive move when he stole Federer’s serve at love for a 3-2 advantage and earned an opportunity to serve for the victory at 5-4.
Andy completed his triumph in style, hitting four service winners to emerge at the top and score his second straight win over world no. 1! “I remember my Roger Federer match here in Dubai; I was ranked 10th or 11th, and I still faced him in the first round.
I turned up on the day they did the draw, and they were like, ‘You’re playing Roger in the first round.’ Many guys came up to me, saying, ‘Nice draw.’ Roger’s record in Dubai is impressive, and it was a massive victory for me.
Any time you can beat Roger is good for your confidence. After Dubai, I did a good job in Indian Wells and Miami in the upcoming weeks. Playing against Roger is always a great opportunity to test your game,” Andy Murray said.