As promised, I am back with a preview of the men’s final. I see Serena Williams lost to Angelique Kerber in the women’s final which just goes to show you how unpredictable tennis is. Did I just mention women’s tennis? Wow, that must be a first!
In all seriousness, I don’t follow women’s tennis but I think most people more-or-less had Williams as a lock for the title. She is basically like a Djokovic of the men’s side. It’s funny how everyone expected her to win the calender slam last year but then she lost in the US Open semis which meant Djokovic had a better year in the slams than her and overall.
Anyway, my point was that in tennis you just never know. I think many people basically have the Djoker as a lock for the title as well, but it is not a certainty at all. And not in the least because Murray has beaten Djokovic twice in slam finals before.
Of course, Djokovic is a better player now than he was in 2012-13, but it’s not like Murray goes into this slam final with Djokovic having never tasted victory before. That said, it doesn’t help his cause that he has only won one match against Djokovic since that last slam final victory at Wimbledon in 2013.
That victory came in the Canada Masters final last year. Sure it is best of three but it proved once again that Murray should not be underestimated. I just think the Plexicushion suits the Djoker’s game to a T and he feels very much at home in Melbourne.
There is also more history up for grabs this year for Djokovic after he broke the record for most Australian Open titles in the open era last year. This time, he is after Roy Emerson’s amateur era record of six titles.
It certainly helps when there is one slam where you feel you are almost guaranteed to pick up a title each year if you are looking to rack up plenty of slams. Federer had Wimbledon and Nadal had the French Open.
If Djokovic can keep winning the Australian Open for a few more years and perhaps Wimbledon too where he seems awfully comfortable these days then he just needs to pick up the French and the US Open a few more times and he’d be well on his way to GOAThood.
But I am now getting way ahead of myself. Just winning the title tomorrow is a big enough challenge. Always first things first. If Djokovic loses tomorrow then all of a sudden he loses momentum. If there is one place he is expected to win the title it is in Melbourne and that creates its own pressure.
As far as the match goes, you better believe Murray will have a very specific game plan to try and unsettle Djokovic. From what I hear, his second serve has improved. It will be important for him to stay aggressive on his second serve and aggressive overall. But maybe most importantly he must not give any ‘business to his box‘ as Brad Gilbert puts it.
Is Murray/Mauresmo a match for Djokovic/Becker?
If he starts doing that it will give Djokovic a mental boost and things will go south fast for him. Murray is very prone to yell obscenities at his box and from what I can remember the only coach who succeeded in making Murray relent from doing so was Lendl.
It should be no surprise then that he won his two slams while Lendl was coaching him. I stand corrected but I think Lendl is the one who ended that partnership which I thought back then already was a big blow to Murray.
But we will see what his behaviour is like in the final. Maybe he can somehow control himself. As for Djokovic, he will surely feel very confident after his beatdown of Federer in the first two sets especially. Just an extraordinary display of baseline mastery.
Federer didn’t know what hit him, and if Djokovic comes out playing like that again Muray will be in for a world of hurt. That would be difficult to do though and Murray provides a different challenge than Federer altogether.
It will be harder to end points against Murray, which means Djokovic will need to be more patient. It won’t be the spectacular tennis of the Djokerer semi-final, but it is nonetheless going to be an interesting game of chess from the baseline. I just saw this tweet from Brad Gilbert:
Key stat tonight Djoker vs Muzzard ND 17-0 when wining 1st set AM is 9-4 winning the 1st set, ND 5-0 in slams AM 2-1 after winning 1st set
— Brad Gilbert (@bgtennisnation) January 30, 2016
That pretty much sums it up. If Murray is to win the match it is basically imperative that he wins the first set. If he loses the first set the odds are heavily stacked against him and not only because of the stats.
After a five-setter with Raonic in the semis and one fewer day of rest, it becomes even more important for him to win the first set. So expect Djokovic to come out strong and really try to get that first set under the belt.
- Pre-Final Pressers
- The Djoker
The is in your court.