Novak Djokovic won his fifth Australian Open after an imperious performance against Britain’s Andy Murray, coming out on top in four sets 7-6, 6-7, 6-3, 6-0.
Anticipation prior to the match had been unsurprisingly huge, with many touting Murray to finally pull off the win on his fourth attempt, despite claiming ‘underdog’ status pre-match there was a quiet confidence amongst many that this was his year. Martina Navratilova had Murray as a slight favourite, although statistically the Serbian Djokovic had won 15 of their 23 clashes prior to the start of the match.
Melbourne Park had been buzzing all fortnight and as the lights glared onto the Rod Laver arena it was clear a mammoth encounter was underway. The first set was tight with both players slogging it out with a measured ferocity, with more than one pundit describing the action as similar to a heavy-weight bout.
Djokovic had an incredible start, rushing into a 4-1 lead in the first, despite some excellent tennis from Murray. Despite not seeming fazed by some early histrionics from the Serb following some physical issues, Murray later noted that he had been ‘distracted’ by them, though he worked hard to drag himself back to 5-5, with both players essentially equal on points. Some loose play in the tie break from Murray, meant a squandering of a 2-0 lead and also the first set, after a gruelling 72 minutes of play.
Murray started the second set well with a hold of serve and then subsequent break, before almost inevitably, the Serb broke back to bring the set level at 2-2. This nip and tuck play continued with Djokovic breaking again for 4-2, only for Murray to play some fantastic shots and force the set back level at 4-4. Djokovic’s occasional injury grumbles only seemed to occur when he lost points, with both players cutting frustrating figures at various stages of the match. This performance by Djokovic in particular a vast improvement on his turgid and lengthy 5 set semi-final with a similarly uninspiring Stanislas Wawrinka. Djokovic forced the tie break in the second set, but was unable to win again with Murray taking advantage of some uncharacteristically poor returns from his opponent. Murray incredibly spurned the chance to win the tie break at 6-3 with all the court to aim for his shot went long, but soon enough won 7-4. Taking the match level into the third set.
After just over two and a half hours play the third set started, with the match seemingly on a knife edge. Murray again took a 2-0 lead, before the set was levelled at 3-3 following some excellent play from Djokovic who appeared to be building momentum and finding his rhythm with ease. A Murray double fault with Djokovic on break point at 5-3 gave the Serb the third set, and the lead in the match. It seemed likely that the winner of the third set would go on to win the match, and so it was with Djokovic playing mercilessly in the fourth set, punishing every Murray mistake as the Scot’s legs and chances of winning began to wane. The signs were ominous and Djokovic, like all top players was formidable in his execution, taking no time at all to wrap up an all too easy fourth set and with it the championship.
Murray won just eleven points in the fourth set which was brutally short at under thirty minutes – compared with the gargantuan opening two sets – Djokovic took full advantage of Murray’s fading play and was a worthy victor on the night, though the match did not deserve such a one sided look on the score sheet. Djokovic became the first man to win five Australian opens in the Open Era and looks set to have another tremendous year, while Murray, who has been blighted with injuries will surely be looking ahead positively to a fit and hopefully successful year as he regains a top 4 world ranking.
Callum Burroughs- Online Editorbookmark me