Sunday’s Australian Open final has a very familiar feel to it, we’ve been here three times before and on each occasion Novak Djokovic downed Andy Murray.
Those results are a reflection of the dominance that Djokovic has had over Murray. The world number one leads the head-to-head between the players 21-9, and at grand slams 6-2. Given the tremendous form that Djokovic is in, Murray will walk out on Rod Laver Arena very much the underdog.
But the Scot is not bothered by Djokovic’s superior record. He’s not bothered by the fact that he’s lost four Australian Open finals, having also gone down to Roger Federer in 2010. The world number two is ready to turn the tables.
“I don’t think many people are expecting me to win on Sunday. I have to just believe in myself,” he said.
“It’s one tennis match, it doesn’t matter what’s happened in the past really. People like to read into what’s happened in the past, but Stan [Wawrinka] beat Rafa [Nadal] in the final here. I don’t know, I don’t think he’d ever won against him in like 13 attempts. When he beat Novak here, the same thing, as well. There’s no reason it’s not possible for me to win.”
Murray has lost 10 of his last 11 meetings with Djokovic, a win in Montreal last year his lone triumph of late, but he defeated the Serb on his way to winning both of his grand slam titles, the 2012 US Open and at Wimbledon in 2013.
The second seed knows that all out attack will not work against Djokovic, with a sustained 100 percent intensity vital if he is to triumph – there simply is no room for mistakes against Djokovic.
“Roger tried to [all out attack] the other day and it’s not that easy, whereas (Gilles) Simon played a completely different way and was very successful for a large part of that match,” he explained.
“If you want to win against Novak you have to maintain your intensity for a long time and your level for a very long time.”
He added: “The most important thing for me is to sustain my level for long enough, not just for one set here or there, a few games here or there. I need to do it for a very long period if I want to get the win. That’s my challenge on Sunday.”
The contest is likely to be determined on Murray’s ability to put up a strong showing on his second serve (an area he has done much work on), and the battle of the baseline. Can Murray slug it out with Djokovic over five sets or will he have to mix his game up? You imagine the latter.
The mental game will also be key. If Murray loses his self-belief for even a moment he will also lose the title.
The odds are against Murray, but then nobody thought that Angelique Kerber could win either.
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