Australian Open Betting: Federer feels the heat (By Betfair)


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Dec 2, 2008
Australian Open Betting: Federer feels the heat


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Formerly a model of gentlemanly conduct, Roger Federer has resorted to the type of mind games which would make Sir Alex Ferguson proud in a bid to hold off the challenges of Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal.
Roger Federer has spent five years as world number one, considered every step of the way the gentleman of tennis. Good mannered, respectful, a player with grace on court and class off it.
That was until this year, when suddenly his place at the pinnacle of the sport was under threat. And slowly, quietly, and in a softly spoken way to make you barely realise it was happening, the claws have come out.
I realised it the day before last summer's Wimbledon final when both Federer and Rafael Nadal gave their pre-match press conferences. Federer appeared looking immaculate, talked about his growing rivalry with the young Spanish star, and was generally the picture of how to uphold the values of sport.
And then I asked him about the amazing amount of time that Nadal takes to serve when he's under pressure, and his tactic of slowing the match right down. Pat Cash on the radio the day before had called it 'cheating'. It was one of those questions you ask more in hope than expectation of an interesting answer. I thought Federer would follow his normal bland tactics and avoid discussing it. Instead he took the chance to dabble in the sort of pre-match mind games that would have made Sir Alex Ferguson proud.
"It's obviously a fine line," he said. "When Rafa gets into position to serve he takes his 20 seconds then takes another ten or 15. The unfortunate part is the umpire will always give him a warning, but he will never give him a point penalty." Roughly translated that was a straightforward message to French umpire Pascal Maria to hammer Nadal for slow play and deduct a point if he got the chance - and it worked as Nadal got a warning during that epic final and was forced to speed his game up.
Wind forward six months and Federer now clearly feels the heat from Andy Murray's emergence. He's told the world this week that the young Scot shouldn't be favourite to win the Australian Open because he hasn't yet been the course and distance of capturing a Grand Slam title. It was clearly a deliberate attempt to wind up Murray and create a debate before they all get to Melbourne.
It's a point that hasn't been lost on British Davis Cup captain John Lloyd, the last British man to reach an Australian Open final in 1977. "I think it shows just how much Andy has got under his skin," he tells Mike Dickson in this morning's Daily Mail. "If he wasn't worried he would just brush off the whole subject and two years ago he would have done that. It suggests Andy has become a real cause for concern."
While many of the mainstream bookmakers have now installed Murray as favourite, Betfair punters keep Federer in that position at 3.7 (+270)while Britain's new hope is 4.2 (+320). While they hog the limelight the best value is Nadal who is 5.5 (+450) to add a third Grand Slam to his current collection and certain to arrive at the tournament with no fuss, avoiding headlines, but fit and raring to go.

Five things you might not know about the Australian Open
1. It started in 1905, played on a cricket ground in Sydney and called the Australiasian Championships

2. It took 45 days by ship to get there from Europe in the early days - so very few foreign players contested the tournament until 1946 when the US Davis Cup team flew there.

3. It wasn't until 1972 the tournament had a permanent home in Melbourne. Until then it had also been staged at various times in Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Christchurch and Hastings

4. Mats Wilander is the only player to have won the tournament on grass and hard court.

5. The trophy is called the Norman Brookes cup, named after a Melbourne gold miner who was the first president of Australia's Lawn Tennis Association

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