Things have never exactly been convivial between Andy Murray and Roger Federer and now the relationship appears to have become a even more strained after the Scot’s claims the long term world no.1 he beat emphatically in the final of Sunday’s Rogers Cup final in Toronto has lost his air of invincibility.
With Federer now past his 29th birthday, Murray maintains some kind of decline was inevitable and Federer’s Wimbledon loss to Tomas Berdych even saw the Swiss fall, albeit temporarily, to third place in the world rankings for the first time since 2002.
"He's always very tough to beat," said Murray as he prepared in Cincinnati to continue his campaign to move into an even stronger position at the head of the US Open series standings. "It's just that, because of how good he was in every tournament three or four years ago - and it's very difficult to be that consistent throughout your whole career - it's normal that he's lost a little bit the last few years.
“But he's still been playing very, very well in grand slams. I'm sure that's what his goals are for the year, to make sure he plays his best there."
Federer remains an intensely proud man and promptly pointed out that the Toronto event was not a major and Murray had yet to get his hands on any trophy at the calendar’s four Grand Slam tournaments which are the true gauges of a playing career.
He also insisted that a widespread assumption said he was on decline early in 2009 after losing the Australian Open final to Rafael Nadal and then failing to reach the final of the year’s first four Masters 1000 series tournaments.
“"Nobody ever believed I would come back," he said. "I won two slams and played the finals of the US Open and won the Australian Open. So then everything changes and you don't win the French or Wimbledon, and things are all bad again. It moves very quickly. I know the rules and how it all works."
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