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