Global Sports : Murray V Djokovic Preview

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Andy Murray will bid to land his first Australian Open title and his third Grand Slam when he takes on long-time rival Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final.
The British No 1 will hope to end a tormenting run of three losing Melbourne finals, while world No 1 Djokovic eyes a fifth triumph down under.
Sixth seed Murray, who suffered a barren season in the majors last year, must halt the Serb’s formidable record on the blue hardcourts where he reigns supreme, is four-from-four in finals and into his fifth title decider in eight years.
Djokovic has beaten Murray in two of his three Melbourne losses in 2011 and 2013, but the feisty Scot mastered his good friend in his two major triumphs at the 2012 US Open and 2013 Wimbledon.
History also beckons for Murray, who became the first British man to win Wimbledon in 77 years two years ago. He could also become the first Briton since Fred Perry in 1934 to lift the Australian Open trophy.
The year’s first major has usually ended in heartbreak for the 27-year-old Scot, but he has given himself another chance to finally break his Melbourne hoodoo.
Challenging Compared to the 17 titles of Roger Federer, 14 of Rafael Nadal and seven of Djokovic, three may seem a relatively small return, until it is remembered that Murray’s eight Grand Slam finals have been against just two players; three against Federer and now five against Djokovic.
“I know it’s going to be extremely difficult to win the match tomorrow. I know if I want to win, it will probably be very tough and challenging physically,” Murray said ahead of the clash.
“So I need to prepare myself mentally for that. But he has a fantastic record here. He obviously loves the court and the conditions. It would be a big upset if I manage to win.”
Murray, under the coaching of two-time Grand Slam champion Amelie Mauresmo, finished 2014 with a 6-0 6-1 thrashing by Roger Federer at the ATP World Tour Finals in London but is unbeaten so far this season.
He looked impressive in turning over Tomas Berdych in Thursday’s semi-final in four sets, while Djokovic laboured over five sets to put away defending champion Stan Wawrinka.
While delighted to have again reached Sunday’s final, Djokovic admitted “the level of performance was not where I wanted it to be”.
“He’s been playing some great tennis these couple weeks,” Djokovic said of Murray, whom he holds a 15-8 winning record against after seven victories in their last eight meetings. “From my side it’s going to be necessary to play my best match of the tournament if I want to win.
“There’s no clear favourite. But the record I have in finals against him here in Australia can serve maybe as a slight mental edge. But not much. I don’t think he’s going to feel that on the court. I’m sure he’s going to be very motivated to win his first title here. I’m going to, of course, give my best that that doesn’t happen.”
Confidence Up until Friday’s semi-final, Djokovic had lost just one of his 74 service games in the tournament. Against Wawrinka his serve was broken five times and that will give Murray confidence.
Murray showed he is capable of making tactical tweaks during his matches to counter his opponents and is expecting he may have to do the same against Djokovic.
“I made some big adjustments in the Berdych match from how things were going at the start,” he said.
“I’ll need to do the same thing again on the Sunday against Novak because things that you think will work doesn’t always work out that way.”
Djokovic and Murray have been playing each other since they were young juniors and both of their teams socialise with each other and get on well.
“There is only a week difference (in age) between us. Very similar game and very similar role to professional tennis. So I think that’s what makes it very special,” the Serb said.
“We have a very good relationship, my team and his team, so we always joke around.”
Victory on Sunday would leave Murray just needing to win the French Open to complete a full set of Grand Slam titles, and the British No 1 added: “Winning three of four slams in this era seems like nothing because of everything that the other guys have done. But it’s a very difficult thing to do. So whether I win or not, I still feel like my record here has been a good one.
“The time I’m competing in just now is extremely challenging. Anything I achieve I’m very proud of because of the players that I’m competing against currently.”
Murray began the championship ranked sixth in the world but is guaranteed to regain his place among the “big four” when the new rankings are released on Monday, and would climb to third if he can lift the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup.
Djokovic leads 15-8 (tournament, winner, surface, round, score)
Miami – Djokovic – hard (QF) 7-5 6-3US Open – Djokovic – hard (QF) 7-6 (7-1) 6-7 (1-7) 6-2 6-4Beijing – Djokovic – hard (SF) 6-3 6-4Paris – Djokovic – hard (QF) 7-5 6-2
Australian Open – Djokovic – hard (F) 6-7 (2-7) 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 6-2Wimbledon – Murray – grass (F) 6-4 7-5 6-4
Australian Open – Djokovic – hard (SF) 6-3 3-6 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 7-5Dubai – Murray – hard (SF) 6-2 7-5Miami – Djokovic – hard (F) 6-1 7-6 (7-4)London Olympics – Murray – grass (SF) 7-5 7-5US Open – Murray – hard – (F) 7-6 (12-10) 7-5 2-6 3-6 6-2Shanghai – Djokovic – hard (F) 5-7 7-6 (13-11) 6-3ATP Tour Finals – Djokovic – hard (RR) 4-6 6-3 7-5
2011Australian Open – Djokovic – hard (F) 6-4 6-2 6-3Rome – Djokovic – clay (SF) 6-1 3-6 7-6 (7-2)Cincinnati – Murray – hard (F) 6-4 3-0 (retired)
2009Miami – Murray – hard (F) 6-2 7-5
2008Monte Carlo – Djokovic – clay (R16) 6-0 6-4Toronto – Murray – hard – (QF) 6-3 7-6 (7-3)Cincinnati – Murray – hard (F) 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5)
2007Indian Wells – Djokovic – hard (SF) 6-2 6-3Miami – Djokovic – hard (SF) 6-1 6-0
2006Madrid – Djokovic – hard (R16) 1-6 7-5 6-3
Sky Sports pundits Barry Cowan is backing Djokovic to beat Murray in four sets AT 11/4 in his Sky Bet charity bets.

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