Andy Murray deserves congratulations for avenging his Australian Open loss to Novak Djokovic with a straight set victory over the dominant force in tennis. Nole will not have to wait until May to absorb his first loss this year. Roger Federer deserves congratulations for beating Juan Martin del Potro for a third time in 2012 and then beating an ascending Andy Murray in straight sets in the final.
A new dynamic is emerging among the top four. Each player has a different opponent he’d rather avoid in a draw. Here is my break down of who each player feels least confident against when taking the court.
World number 1 Novak Djokovic was losing to Andy Murray in Cincinnati before retiring in 2011. Novak needed late match heroics to defeat Murray in Australia and just lost to Murray in Dubai. Throw in a tight match versus Murray on clay last year in Rome and I think Novak struggles the most versus Andy Murray.
World number 2 Rafael Nadal has lost seven consecutive tournament championship matches to Novak Djokovic including three consecutive Grand Slam finals. This is a no brainer, Rafa is not comfortable taking the court versus Novak Djokovic.
World number 3 Roger Federer has struggled versus Rafal Nadal everywhere outside of the World Tour Finals.
World number 4 Andy Murray has a winning record versus Roger Federer, but Murray’s retrieving style is most susceptible to Roger’s more aggressive style of play. Murray has also had a number of tough losses to Rafael Nadal, but I think Murray and Lendl’s approach likely has more traction versus Nole and Rafa than it does against Roger. A talented attacking player such as Federer can take the match out of Murray’s hands and make the match all about whether Roger hits or misses rather than about Lendl’s predictive adjective of “pain” that will likely highlight Murray’s matches with Nole and Rafa.