A potential semifinal matchup between Roger Federer and Andy Murray was one of the first things discussed when the Australian Open brackets came out. Five rounds later, the two superstars are indeed set to face off for a spot in the championship match.
The friendly rivals will be meeting for the 20th time. Murray holds a slight 10-9 advantage, thanks in part to wins in the London Olympics and the Shanghai Masters last season. Federer did win their most recent encounter at the ATP World Tour Finals, though.
Murray has been especially impressive in breezing through his first five opponents. He's clearly playing with a much higher level of confidence after winning his first Grand Slam title last season at the U.S. Open.
It hasn't been an easy road, either. Murray had to face Gilles Simon in the fourth round and red-hot Jeremy Chardy in the quarterfinals. However, he didn't just beat the pair of talented Frenchmen, he demolished them.
All told, Murray reached the semifinals without dropping a single set. He hasn't even had to play a tiebreaker. That type of sustained dominance is what the Scot was missing before the second half of last season.
Federer had the toughest draw of the four semifinalists, but wouldn't let that slow him down. The 17-time major winner knocked off Benoit Paire, Nikolay Davydenko, Bernard Tomic, Milos Raonic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to reach this point.
That's about as tough as it gets, and yet Federer fought off every challenge thrown his way. His toughest match was the quarterfinal with Tsonga, which went five sets before the Swiss star was finally able to gain the upper hand.
It's tough to know how much that type of match will impact Federer, because he always makes everything look so effortless. Even after beating Tsonga, it looked like he barely broke a sweat, although his 31-year-old body probably disagrees.
There are no secrets when Murray and Federer face off. They have faced each other enough times to know what they can expect from the player on the other side of the net. It just comes down to which player executes better.
Ultimately, it's hard to pick against Murray given his strong play throughout the event. Federer certainly won't go down without a serious fight, so expect a match that goes the distance before Murray is finally able to earn his spot in the final.
Prediction: Murray in five sets
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