The Australian Open men’s singles final will be the stage of the 18th meeting between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, who have met seven times out of those previous 17 in 2012 only. Most of those seven meeting were long, gruelling matches, often going to the limit, not only in the number of sets, but also in the energy spent by both players. It should not be any different in Sunday’s final.
Hoping for a painful battle
In fact, after defeating Roger Federer in semi-finals, Andy Murray admitted to not just be expecting a painful match, but to hoping it will be a painful one, as it would mean it is a good one. In his latest column for The Australian, the Scot went further on that thought:
“It is obviously going to be tough and this might sound strange, but I hope am feeling in pain late on Sunday because that will mean I am right in the final.”
When asked about it in press on Saturday, Novak Djokovic agreed with his friend and rival:
“Considering the fact that every time we played in last probably six, seven encounters, it was always a long matches [sic], physically very demanding, going three sets and five sets in Grand Slams. So I guess we have to expect something similar to happen, long rallies, and I’m ready for that.”
Masochists? No. Warriors. Both of them.
A fight for history
The final between Djokovic and Murray will also lead to a bit of history making, regardless of the winner.
On the other hand, if Murray is crowned champion, it will be the first time that a player wins his first two Grand Slam titles back-to-back.
Will this have an influence on either player during the match? I don’t think so. Both should be ready to play their hearts (and guts) out for the title, history or not, like the fierce competitors they are.
The rest factor
This is probably the only downside of the Australian Open: the men’s semi-finals are not played on the same day, which gives one of the finalists an extra day of rest.
This means that Novak Djokovic, with not only an extra day’s rest, but with short matches in quarter-finals and, particularly, in semis, starts with a big advantage when it comes to energy, whereas Andy Murray is coming off a difficult four-hour semi-final match against Roger Federer.
Does this mean that the Serbian is assured to win? Not at all. He is, perhaps, the most rested of the two, but four of the last five finals have seen the player who had the extra day’s rest on the losing end of the result.
Furthermore, Andy Murray is, assuredly, one of the fittest guys of the ATP World Tour, and putting in the hard yards in Miami in the off-season is a definite benefit for his form entering this stage of the tournament. Not having been tested much until the semi-finals might also help the Brit when it comes to his saving energy for the tough battle ahead.
Who will win?
That is the question.
On one side is the two-time defending champion, a player who excels on every court and surface, and is particularly good playing at Melbourne Park, the World no 1.
On the other side, the Olympic and U.S. Open champion, one who has finally got a huge monkey off his back last summer, and has shown to many why he belongs where he has been for the last few years: in the top 4.
Two men with similar game styles, who know each other since childhood, and are very good friends off the court.
Two great athletes, who will leave everything on the court of the Rod Laver Arena, even if it takes five hours or more.
The outcome of that match, if this is anything like their previous ones, will come from several points here and there, in a tight affair, and a long, hard-fought (likely very defensive) battle.
I am picking Andy Murray to win, for one reason: because I said, before the start of the tournament, that he would be the winner, and I am not one to change her mind so close to the end.
In the end, may the best man win, and may us all be entertained by the final!
(Photos: Getty Images via Zimbio; End montage: Running Forehand)