Thirteen years ago on this day, the 19-year-old Andy Murray stunned world no. 1 Roger Federer in the second round of Cincinnati, delivering a 7-5, 6-4 victory in an hour and 37 minutes for the first win over the Swiss in their second meeting.
It was a rather strange encounter, with no less than 21 break chances overall and 12 stoles service games, with Andy keeping himself more composed in the closing stages of both sets to march on without having to play a decider.
Murray was ranked 21st after the semi-final in Newport, the final in Washington and the semi-final in Canada but this still came as a big surprise since Roger already conquered seven titles in 2006 and lost just four matches, all against Rafael Nadal and three of those on clay.
Also, Roger emerged victorious in the past 55 encounters played on the North American hard courts starting from the US Open 2004, ending that streak and suffering the first straight-sets loss since Roland Garros 2004, competing in 194 matches since then in the span of 28 months!
Federer came close to another record, reaching 17 ATP finals in a row starting from Halle 2005, just one short of Ivan Lendl who played in 18 straight title matches between Madrid 1981 and Forest Hills 1982, staying in front of Roger by only just.
The defending champion suffered seven breaks on hard only for the second time in a career after Nalbandian broke him eight times at 2003 Australian Open in the five-setter clash! As we already said, it was a rather odd match with so many break points on one of the fastest hard courts you can find.
Roger served at 55% and experienced troubles on the second serve big time, losing 51% of the points behind the initial shot and getting broken seven times from 14 opportunities he gave to Andy. On the other hand, the Briton landed only 41% of the first serve in but turned out to be more reliable than Federer on his second serve, getting broken five times from seven chances offered to Roger.
The Swiss had a slim lead in the shortest points and Andy annulled that in the mid-range shots, while nothing could have separated them in the most extended exchanges. Murray finished the match with 27 winners and 27 unforced errors, toppling Roger’s 25-35 ratio, outplaying the great rival in the winners department, something he could have only dreamed about before the start of the match.
The youngster wasted a break chance in the very first game before converting one in the third when Federer sent the backhand wide. Murray was the better player in these opening games, making only a few errors and dictating the pace with deep and precise groundstrokes.
Nonetheless, he played a loose service game to get Roger back on the scoreboard, hitting a double fault in game six to make the result even at 3-3. That didn’t affect the Briton too much, moving in front again in the seventh game after stealing Federer’s serve with two backhand winners.
Roger had the answer for this, pulling the break back in game eight with a beautiful backhand down the line winner that kept him in contention for the opening set. Against all the odds, Federer dropped serve again at 4-4 for the third time since the beginning of the duel following a costly double fault and Andy was now serving for the set, hoping for a good hold that would carry him over the top.
The drama was far from being over, though, with two break chances up for grabs for Federer in that tenth game and the incredible fifth straight break of serve! Murray sent the forehand long and the result was again secured at 5-5, in what was a truly bizarre set of tennis.
Instead of building on this, Roger wasted three game points for a 6-5 advantage and lost serve after another double fault, suffering a break for the fourth time which is a rare scene in his matches, especially in those good old days.
After so many problems in service games for both players, Andy sealed the deal with an ace in game 12, mighty relieved he got it in the bag after landing only 34% of the first serve in! Things went from bad to worse for Roger who dropped serve for the fourth straight time (!!) at the beginning of the second set, unable to find the right rhythm and free points or to penetrate Murray from the baseline.
A feast of breaks continued as Andy was also broken in game two, with the encounter developing into a stranger and stranger affair. Federer finally found the way to hold at 15 in the third game which was very important if he wanted to regain some confidence, with both serving well in the following games as well.
It all changed at 3-3 when Murray grabbed a crucial break thanks to yet another unforced error from Roger, moving into a driving seat to bring the victory home. Andy crossed the finish line with a backhand down the line winner in game ten, scoring one of the best wins of his early career and reaching the quarter-final where Andy Roddick beat him in straight sets.