Ground Hog Day? Novak hopes so and Murray Hopes Not
#1 vs #2: Oceans in between Us?
Normally when the world #1 meets the world #2 the expectation is that the match could go either way. Novak Djokovic is so far ahead in the computer rankings, and he has beaten Andy Murray 3 times in the Australian Open championship match winning 9 of 11 sets. So is this a classic 1 vs. 2 major final or is this a repeat of 2011, 2013, and 2015?
Murray Needs to Look at 2012
His best match versus Novak in Melbourne came in the 2012 Aussie Open semifinal round. I am not sure if he can replicate what was done there, but I’d prefer thinking of that match than the 3 finals.
Novak Loves Plexicushion and so Does Andy
Novak has reached an Open Era record 6 Australian Open final rounds. All of these championship rounds were reached after the switch to Plexicushion from Rebound Ace. Andy Murray is tied with Roger Federer for the second most Open Era appearances in the Australian final round by making his 5th appearance on the final Sunday in Melbourne.
Neither guy is going to shock the other. They play a similar enough style to one another that neither player will have to work to establish his style of match. Both return so well that taking care of one’s serve will be imperative. Murray’s weaker second serve is always a concern when these two meet. I expect a lot of heavy baseline rallies featuring a lot of running so if either guy has a mid-match physical problem it will go bad in a hurry (see the 2013 final). Novak has to believe in himself being so dominant in Melbourne in general and being 4-0 versus Andy Murray over the past 5 Australian Open events.
Maybe an upset is in the air given the results of the women’s final, but I would not bet on it. I think Novak Djokovic’s sublime movement, his iron will, his more tidy serving game, and his return of serve will slowly but surely generate separation on the scoreboard. Andy lost in straight sets to Novak in their 2011 championship tilt in part due to Murray’s nerves. This time I think it will all be due to Novak playing tennis at a level no one has seen before. He tuned Rafa in Qatar. He raced to a lead versus Federer before splitting the 3rd and 4th sets to take that match. I think he dominates Murray to establish firm dominance in men’s tennis.