By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) - Andy Murray's tearful defeat in his first Wimbledon final proved the catalyst for the Scot's golden summer, according to Roger Federer, the man who crushed Murray's hopes that day in July.
Federer's ruthless display on Centre Court to win a seventh Wimbledon title was a massive blow for Murray for whom it was his fourth defeat in a grand slam final.
Inevitable questions were raised about Murray's ability to get over the final hurdle yet the 25-year-old rebounded a few weeks later to beat Federer in the Olympic singles final and in September he won the U.S. Open by defeating world number one Novak Djokovic in a five-set epic.
Federer and Murray will clash for the third time in London this year on Sunday in the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Finals with the Swiss two wins away from a seventh title.
The 31-year-old said his victory over the British favorite at Wimbledon may have been a watershed moment for Murray whose first two grand slam final defeats came at the hands of Federer in the 2008 U.S. Open and 2010 Australian Open.
Discussing Murray's coming of age since Wimbledon, 17-times grand slam champion Federer said: "Andy did great. I always hoped he would have a reaction like this, to be quite honest, even though it cost me maybe a gold medal.
"I was a bit disappointed in his reaction after the Australian Open finals, when I beat him there, then he went on a bad spell I think through Rotterdam, Indian Wells, Miami. He didn't really play so well.
"Instead of taking positives out of a great tournament, because he was playing great tennis, he took the negatives out of it. I don't think he did that mistake again after Wimbledon. That's the sign of a champion.
"So yes, you can say it sort of started for him at the Olympics. He did put himself in positions time and time again in the past and I think he's learned from his mistakes now. Now he's up there and he will be for a very long time."
Despite being humbled by Murray in the Olympic final, Federer is the master of indoor tennis and will be determined not to suffer a similar fate on Sunday.
"I think he played a bit better (at the Olympics) than maybe in the Wimbledon finals," Federer told reporters.
"Maybe I allowed him to play a little bit better. I just think he set himself a goal, as well, like I did, that we hoped we could win either one, Wimbledon or the Olympics.
"I think his drive was so strong at the end that carried him through. Whereas maybe I already got Wimbledon, I already had the silver, so maybe that last thing was missing, even though I gave it everything I had.
"Maybe deep down somewhere that does affect you. It maybe prevents you playing your absolute best."
Murray has faced Federer four times indoors, the last two occasions coming in the ATP World Tour Finals in London where Federer triumphed.
"He's played great indoors the last few years, that's for sure," Murray, who leads 10-8 overall against Federer, said.
"I played him quite a few times indoors, had decent success against him early on. The last few times I played him haven't done so well indoors.
"But, yeah, his record speaks for itself."
(Editing by Ed Osmond)