After four dominant seasons on the Tour, Roger Federer lost the ATP throne in 2008 to Rafael Nadal, looking to make a fresh start of the new season in Doha. The two-time champion kicked off the 2009 campaign with dominant wins over Potito Starace and Andreas Seppi, beating Philipp Kohlschreiber in the quarters to hit the semi-final clash with the defending champion Andy Murray.
The 21-year-old Briton had the advantage over Roger in their early rivalry and that didn't change in Doha on January 9, with Andy beating Roger 6-7, 6-2 6-2 in two hours and five minutes and advancing into the 14th ATP final.
Four months earlier, Roger grabbed a win in the match that counted the most, winning the US Open crown over Murray who bounced back on an indoor court in Madrid and the ATP Finals, prevailing 7-5 in the third set in both those matches and crossing the finish line first in Doha as well.
The Briton delivered better percentages behind the first serve, defending all three break chances offered to Roger and starting all over after losing the opener to march over the top and advance into the final. He broke Roger twice in sets two and three each, having the upper hand in the mid-range exchanges after following Roger's numbers in the shortest ones, which was very important for the youngster.
Federer had more winners but also much more forced and unforced errors, keeping the points short but not being able to make a difference in them and stay on the winning course after the opener. Federer survived three deuces in the third game and had to dig deep at 3-3 as well, overcoming a break chance with a forehand winner and holding after four deuces to stay 4-3 up.
On the other hand, Murray gave away only five points in the first five service games, enduring deuce at 5-6 to reach a tie break where Roger fended off a set point with a volley winner at 5-6, moving in front with an ace and securing the set with a backhand crosscourt winner in the 14th point.
Facing the ultimate challenge in the third game of the second set, Andy fended off three break points that could have sealed his fate in this one, picking up the award three games later when he broke Federer to gain the advantage.
Returning at 5-2, the Briton clinched another break to close the set 6-2 and gather momentum ahead of the decider. The youngster held after deuce in the third game and broke Federer a few minutes later when the Swiss sprayed a backhand error, taking a big step towards the finish line.
Three commanding holds later, Roger served to stay in contention at 2-5 and netted a smash to get broken at 15 and push Murray into the title match. "If Andy carries on playing the way he is, he will have his shot to become world no.
1 in the future," Federer said. "I would hope, though, that if he were to become world no. 1, he would win a Grand Slam first, not like on the women's side. It took Rafa Nadal five Grand Slams before he became no.
1. Andy has got a chance at Majors in the next few years and as the years go by, I guess his chances increase because he is becoming a better player. But, there are a few other guys out there who want their first slam, not only him."
"I would like to win a Slam but I think anybody who gets to world No. 1 will have shown great consistency and deserves to be there," Murray said. "I would love to win a Slam but if you can get to no. 1 in the world at anything you do it is something to be proud of.
To have won that many matches against somebody as good as him is awesome. Still, I would still exchange all my wins against him for the one in the US Open final."