Well, that turned out to be a much more interesting encounter than I thought it would be. In the end, it was great entertainment that I feel fortunate to have been a part of. The first two sets were absolutely brutal and took 152 minutes to complete. They were on pace for a longer final than that 2012 Djokodal epic. The rallies were just brutal and something had to give. Murray drew first blood in the third set after he swung the momentum in his favor by winning the second set. He got the early break to take a 2-0 lead, but from there on he only won one more game in the match as Djokovic ran out a 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-0 winner. It all changed when Djokovic was looking like a spent force at the beginning of the third set. He was looking in desperate physical trouble and it looked like Murray was gaining the ascendancy. I knew better. I actually tweeted when Murray was 2-0 up that Djokovic was doing the old rope-a-dope.
And like clockwork Djokovic broke Murray back to square things up at 2-2. I mean if I could spot the rope-a-dope surely Murray could too, but he let it get to him. He even admitted it afterward in his presser. Djokovic have done this so many times in the past that surely as a player you are on the lookout for it. But this is just the difference between Djokovic and Murray. Djokovic is mentally stronger. He wants it more and finds a way. As far as their games go they are on a very similar level, yet Djokovic have now won six more slams than Murray. I would say Djokovic has a slightly better serve, grounds strokes, and returns. Their movement is similar although Djokovic may have the edge there too. Murray compensates with better volleys, hands, and variation, however. So the main difference is in the mental department. Murray is always berating and beating himself up.
Djokovic doesn’t do that. He also gets frustrated, but when he needs it he finds another gear. That may not be very noticeable on the surface, but it makes a huge difference in performance. Murray is still stuck on two slams while Djokovic is now squared with open era legends Connors, Agassi, and Lendl. But he is also now the title record holder at the Australian Open with five titles which makes him the Australian Open GOAT. Plexicushion is clearly very suitable for his game because he is 5/5 in finals at Melbourne Park. But the one that stands out is that final against Nadal in 2012. That is really where he gained my respect and admiration. He did something there which Roger failed to do in 2009 which was to defeat Nadal over five sets. Just to get back to the final today, I think the first set was always gonna be key. Djokovic broke first and took a 4-1 lead. Murray then broke back to make the score 3-4 but dropped serve again to trail 3-5.
Well played Kim…well played…
Djokovic served for the first set, but his net game deserted him once more. Far as I’m concerned hiring Becker has not paid off in that department. His poor net play almost cost him the crucial first set, but his mental strength pulled him through. He was a break down in the tie-break, but like I said he was too solid in the mental department to let it get away from him. The service breaks continued in the second set as Djokovic broke first again to take a 4-2 lead. Again Murray reeled him in to even things up at 4-4, and this time he would hold is own serve to take a 5-4 lead. Djokovic then took a 40-0 lead on his own serve, only for Murray to come all the way back and have a set point. I thought failing to take advantage there would cost Murray, but to his credit he hung on in the next game to save two break points on his own serve. The tiebreak ensued and this time Murray wouldn’t let it get away from him after getting the early mini-break.
He squared things up at a set all and at the beginning of the third set Djokovic looked in serious trouble, which is where the turning point came. It is a controversial situation and, of course, the Djokovic haters claims he is a faker and what not, but the rope-a-dope tactic has been used in tennis for ages and there is no rule against it. And besides he probably did feel very deflated after losing the second set. The intensity was just brutal in the first two sets and after losing the second set he must have felt like the wind was taken out of his sails. But Djokovic is an experienced campaigner and knows how to outfox an opponent. He was also just gaining a second wind in those first couple of games of the third set. Murray fell for it and he only has himself to blame. Djokovic is just better and that is all there is to it. The haters can call faking all they want but the record books state he owns five Australian Open titles.
So in the end like I said there were some amazing rallies and quality and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. The base line exchanges were just brutal in the first two sets but once Djokovic got Murray with the rope-a-dope he was a spent force. Finished. Done. Djokovic even bagels him in the final set just to rub it in. And as usual the calendar slam talk has begun which starts every year after Melbourne. Don’t people ever get tired of it? No one has won the calender slam in the open era. Not even Roger Federer for crying out loud. There is always a possibility but why even bother with it before Djokovic wins the next two slams? It will be hard enough for him to finally topple Nadal at the French. And I don’t think he is winning Wimbledon this year. Hopefully, Roger can do that and get the record for most titles at one of the slams himself. Djokovic have joined Nadal in that achievement now and Roger is still equaled for most titles in London and New York.
Spare a thought for Murray who goes to 0/4 in finals at Melbourne Park
So hopefully he can get the most titles at at least one of them. I’m sure most Fedfans want that to happen at Wimbledon where it all started for Roger, and this year may be his last best opportunity. I think Nadal is done being a threat at Wimbledon which is key for Roger’s chances there. You never know if Nadal can be back in the mix again at the US Open, and like we saw last year Roger can lose to someone outside of the top four who is on fire there too. I think there is another interesting year ahead in tennis anyway. And I’m glad the final today was a good match after the semis turned out to be a letdown. I had a lot of fun these last couple of weeks making posts and discussion with you guys again so thank you for your participation. It didn’t work out for Roger but as long as he wins Wimbledon this year who cares. And finally congrats to Djokovic, the new Australian Open king!