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Tennis-Defeated Federer applauds Murray's court craft | Sports | Tennis | Reuters

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

INDIAN WELLS, California, March 21 (Reuters) - Triple champion Roger Federer paid tribute to Andy Murray's match strategy and on-court speed after being outplayed 6-3 4-6 6-1 in Saturday's semi-final of the ATP event at Indian Wells.


"He's a great counter puncher and reads the game really well," the Swiss world number two told reporters after slipping to his sixth defeat by the Briton in eight career meetings.

"He's got great feel and he's very confident at the moment. He knows he doesn't need to play close to the lines because he knows he can cover the court really well.

"I think that calms him down mentally. I think that's why he's playing so well."

Federer gave Murray more than a helping hand by piling up 32 unforced errors in an uncharacteristically erratic display at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

"Way too many errors today," said Federer, whose last victory against Murray came in the final of the U.S. Open in September. "The first set, I tried to keep playing and I couldn't.

"I struggled with the rhythm today and that was the same thing in the third set. He played unbelievable in the end, and I made many mistakes.

"In the last few matches, I always felt Andy came on strong as the match went on," the 27-year-old added. "This time was different. I think I played well in the second. I forced the issue a bit more and then played a shocking third set.

"It was one of those matches where it was very up and down from both ends and today the better player won."

Federer was concerned when Murray tumbled to the ground in anguish after the second point of the fourth game in the third set.

"I was worried for him, he went down badly," the Swiss said. "I was happy to see that he got back up. That was good that he's not injured."

Although Murray was worried he might have injured his groin, he continued that game by breaking Federer and went on to wrap up victory in style.

"I got a little bit scared at first," the 21-year-old Scot said. "Then, once I got up and ran around after a couple points, I knew that it felt okay. It feels fine just now." (Editing by Martin Petty)


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