ANDY’S ON FIRE

FEDERER BURNED UP

DAZZLING BRIT STAR

MIKE DICKSON

Whenever Andy Murray and Roger Federer meet they end up
inflicting scars on one another, and yesterday it was the British
No 1’s turn to leave an indelible mark.

His superb 6-3, 6-2 victory over the great Swiss to win the
Shanghai Masters title was the biggest beating dished out in all
their 13 meetings and further proof that Murray has his measure
when the mood takes him.

Federer, much to his frustration, knows this and has won only
five of their encounters. But he will console himself that in their
most important match of the season, the
Australian
Open final, it was he who left the
biggest mark of all.

Murray would happily swap his two Masters titles of this season
? both achieved in finals against Federer, the other one being
Toronto in August ? for a victory in Melbourne, but this 85-minute
romp was reassurance of his sublime talent.

It was timely enough, too, for it comes only six weeks after his
second most disappointing reverse of 2010

, the third-round exit at the US Open to the other, lesser
Swiss, Stanislas Wawrinka.

When Murray rises to the challenge of the big points like
yesterday, displaying brilliant controlled aggression to deny
Federer six break points and breaking serve four times, you wonder
how he managed to lose to Wawrinka over five sets at Flushing
Meadows.

You can only think that the difference lies with the fact that
yesterday was one of the nine Masters events, held in a distant
suburb of Shanghai, whereas the US Open is where it matters most to
him, and where he puts perhaps even more pressure on himself than
at Wimbledon.

Regardless, he continues to relish playing Federer. Murray said:
‘It’s incredibly difficult but I really enjoy the challenge of
playing him, I don’t fear playing him. Maybe it’s that when I play
him I know that I have to play great tennis to win.

‘I need to play like this for a whole tournament in the Slams. I
don’t think my game needs to improve much. I need to keep winning
events like this. When you beat Roger and Rafa (Nadal) it gives you
confidence you can beat them in the Slams.’

Murray displayed the sort of purpose that deserted him in New
York and the victory sets him up for the last three events of the
season, defending his 2009 title in Valencia, followed

the Paris Masters and, most importantly, the season-end Barclays
ATP Tour World Finals in London.

The points garnered in China also put him back in touch with
Federer and Novak Djokovic in the battle for the No 2 ranking.

Murray was in sparkling form from the start to break
immediately, and when Federer threatened to pull back an early
break responded with an ace. The Swiss became increasingly
frustrated in the second set, complaining bitterly about one
over-rule, as he failed to convert his break points and made 30
unforced errors in all.

This, as is often the case, was partly the result of having to
press too hard when faced with the extraordinary defence of the
23-year-old Scot. Murray also took a shine to Federer’s second
serve and punished it heavily, winning 76 per cent of those
points.

Particularly encouraging has been his greater aggression on his
forehand and an improvement in his second serve.

‘Andy played great, he didn’t give me much and made me work
extremely hard, making me go for shots that I couldn’t pull off,’
said Federer, who was playing his first event since the US
Open.

‘I had a few chances and maybe could have swung the momentum
around. The next step is for Andy to win a Grand Slam, but it’s
hard to make that breakthrough.’

In all it was more evidence that Murray can beat any player at
any time, with the likely exception of Nadal on a clay court. But
then we knew that already.

m.dickson@dailymail.co.uk

Smoking: Andy Murray enters the arena (left) before beating
Roger Federer to lift the Shanghai Masters trophy (above) topped
off

a blue mascot REUTERS