Australian Open 2015: Preview of the Men’s Final

The line up of men’s singles at the Australian Open 2015 has a sense of deja vu to it as Novak Djokovic of Serbia takes on Andy Murray of Scotland in a repeat of the 2011 and 2013 finals. The Serbian world no 1 who has been a champion in 2008 (d. Tsonga), 2011, 2012 (d. Nadal) and 2013 came out on top against the Scotsman on both occassions. Murray who has secured no 4 ranking also finished runner up in 2010 loosing to Federer. While Djokovic has never lost the final in Melbourne, Murray who made his comeback from surgery at the same event last year will be seeking his maiden Australian Open title at the Rod Laver Arena on Sunday, the first day of February. It is ironic that Murray’s only wins in grand slams, the US open im 2012 & Wimbledon 2013 has come at the expense of Djokovic.

The World no 1 takes a 15-8 head to head record against the no 6 seed, Murray would jump ahead of Nadal should he win. The Serb also triumphed at Wimbledon 2011 and added the US Open in 2011. He is only the third among active players to win three grand slams in a calendar year. The others being Roger Federer (2006 and 2007) and Rafael Nadal in 2010. Murray’s only other notable achievement was a Olympic Gold medal finish in London 2012. This would be Djokovic’s 14th appearance in a grand slam final while Murray will be featuring in his 8th final.

The Dunblane native Murray had to recover after loosing the first set in a tie break to the no 7 seed Tomas Berdych on Of Czech Republic on Thursday. He wrapped up the next two sets in style 6-0, 6-3 but was made to fight hard in the fourth set winning 7-5. Berdych who had knocked out the 2009 champion Rafael Nadal in the last 8 stage was seeking only his second final appearance; the only time he had reached there was at Wimbledon 2010 loosing to Nadal. The other semi-final played on Friday went the distance as Novak Djokovic and the defending champion Stanislas Wawrinka played out a match lasting 3 hours and 30 minutes. However it was an anti climatic end in the final set which Djokovic won comprehensively 6-0 and was in complete contrast to the previous two meetings which the pair had split in 2013 and 2014. Djokovic had won 12-10 in the final set of the round of 16 in 2013 while Wawrinka had evened it by winning the 2014 quarter final 9-7. Apart from that the duo also contested the US Open semi final in 2013 which was won by Djokovic in five sets. The eventual scoreline in their latest encounter was 7-6(1), 3-6, 6-4, 4-6 and 6-0.

Djokovic has compiled a 49-6 record at the Australian Open and will seek to join Roger Federer(75-12) and Stefan Edberg (56-10) to reach the 50 win mark at the Open. While he looks the favourite to add another title on Sunday a good start by Andy Murray would be crucial as Murray had lost the opening set in both the 2011 and 2013 final. Expect a classic in store and it would be a travesty of justice if the Scottsman were to leave without the winner’s trophy on Sunday. Therefore expecting a five set win for Murray just like the US Open 2012 final.

– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: sportzcosmos@gmail.com]

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