When this final repeats and comes back again, it’s safe to say that the rivalry between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic is now the number one on the ATP Tour, and naturally was the one we expected and deserved to see in the first Grand Slam title match of the season, the 2013 Australian Open Final.
It’s arguable about what was the toughest road to the final, but the numbers tell us one thing: Both players are undefeated in 2013, although Novak Djokovic preferred playing in the Hopman Cup instead of a different tournament, like the Brisbane international. Murray won the pre-Aussie Open week with a few wins over no one impressive.
In the Australian Open, Murray has gone through Robin Haase, João Sousa, Ričardas Berankis, Gilles Simon, Jérémy Chardy and Roger Federer in the Semifinal, which took four hours to complete and give Murray his first ever win over Federer in a Grand Slam tournament. The 3-2 win over Federer, losing two tiebreaks before a 6-2 final set against a spent rival, Murray didn’t drop a single set in Melbourne and only one during his Brisbane triumph.
The road was a tad harder for Novak Djokovic, beating Paul-Henri Mathieu, Ryan Harrison, Radek Štěpánek, Stanislas Wawrinka, Tomáš Berdych and David Ferrer. Like Murray, Djokovic dropped two sets against a Swiss player, with Wawrinka taking Djokovic to the limit, ending with a 12-10 fifth set in what was the best match of the tournament. Berdych wasn’t a piece of cake, but there’s a reason Djokovic has beaten the Czech player more than 90% of their matches.
The semifinal against Ferrer was the real tour de force from the world’s number one, who usually finds it difficult in his matches against the cagey Spaniard. Instead, Djokovic crushed him 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 and positioned himself, if it wasn’t already obvious, as the favorite in this match.
Djokovic has a 10-7 lead in his matchup with Murray, winning the last couple of times these two met: The final in Shanghai and later in a round robin match during the ATP World Finals in London. Murray did win in their last Grand Slam encounter, beating Djokovic in five sets (a match that took just under five hours) to win his first ever Grand Slam title. The two have met twice in the Australian Open, including last year’s semifinal. Djokovic has won both times.
Predictions – It’s hard betting against Novak Djokovic at this moment; Except for the problems against Wawrinka, probably on the best day of his career, Djokovic has simply slaughtered his way through the competition. If anyone can stop him, it’s Andy Murray, but the general feeling is that Murray needs a more exceptional performance in order to win it, if that makes any sense. Something tells me Murray is ready to make another stand against the best player in the world, good enough for a second GS title.