LONDON (AP) — It’s not all that often that someone can play so well and still lose in straight sets.
That’s what Andy Murray will have to live with, because the 2013 Wimbledon champion produced a solid performance Friday on Centre Court but still lost to an almost-otherworldly Roger Federer in the semifinals at the All England Club.
“Didn’t actually play a bad match,” Murray said after his 7-5, 7-5, 6-4 loss. “Played pretty well.”
Murray had the choice of serving first in the match, but he opted to receive — perhaps hoping to apply some early pressure on the seven-time Wimbledon champion standing on the other side of the net.
It nearly worked. Federer faced his only break point in the opening game, but he saved it, and soon started to wow the crowd with his own exquisite serving.
“He served fantastic, apart from the first game where I had the chance there,” said Murray, who served pretty well himself through most of the match. “Didn’t really have any opportunities. Then, you know, that puts pressure on you. The pressure builds throughout the set that way.”
Federer has only lost his serve once at Wimbledon this year, against Gilles Simon in the quarterfinals. On Friday, the second-seeded Swiss won 70 of 91 points on serve and was only taken to deuce twice in the entire match. He also had 20 aces.
“I served a very high first-serve percentage, plus going big,” said Federer, who beat Murray in the 2012 Wimbledon final but lost to him a few weeks later in the Olympic final on the same court. “So definitely it was one of my best serving days of my career, for sure.”
On the receiving end, Federer picked his moments, and they happened to come at the end of each set. He broke in the 12th game to take the first set, and then again in the 12th game to take the second — shortly after an epic 15-minute game in which Murray saved five set points.
Both of those late breaks allowed Federer to keep serving first in the following set, meaning Murray was always trying to stay even. Federer broke for the third time to end the match.
“A lot of guys serve first. A lot of guys receive first. It really depends on what your preference is,” Murray said. “The way that it worked out today, I mean, the guy served unbelievable. That was the difference, not the fact that he served first.”
With the win, Federer is now 10-0 in Wimbledon semifinals. He will next face Novak Djokovic on Sunday in a rematch of last year’s final, which Djokovic won in five sets.
Murray said he hasn’t yet decided if he will watch, but he certainly thinks Federer has what it takes to win his record eighth Wimbledon title.
“If Roger serves well, serves like he did today,” Murray said, “he’ll give himself a great opportunity to win that match.”