SAN DIEGO, January 27, 2013 — In a replay of their meeting at the U.S. Open last year, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray battled it out in the final of the 2013 Australian Open tennis tournament. Another five sets, another five-hour match, another epic battle.
And in the end, another Australian Open title for Novak Djokovic, the fourth of his career and the third in a row, 7-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.
The margin for error for either player was razor thin. Neither could break each other’s serve for the first two sets, both of them going to tiebreakers. Statistically, the winner of the first set between Murray and Djokovic had always gone on to win the match. But it wasn’t the case Sunday night in Melbourne.
Djokovic started slowly with nearly double the unforced errors of Murray in the first two sets. Throughout the match, Djokovic put on his usual show of speed, sliding improbable saves and wicked passing shots, but he also seemed erratic. Murray maintained a steady pressure, not letting his nerves or emotions get the better of his. Steady as he goes works for him. Hence they were dead even after two sets.
But after the second set, Murray asked for a trainer who worked on his feet. He was wearing new shoes, and he seemed to be having trouble with blisters. Adiddas has some explaining to do if it can’t get shoes right for one of its biggest, most visible tennis star, that’s for sure. How much it contributed to the outcome, it’s hard to say.
But Murray was not the same player. He set himself up with a triple break point opportunity for the match’s first service break in the third game of the third set, but he couldn’t convert and Djokovic took the game.
Murray seemed to fold both mentally and physically after that, similar to Djokovic in the U.S. Open. He grabbed his hamstrings several times later in the match. The tables had turned. Djokovic sensed the need to seize the opportunity and showed no mercy mowing Murray down. Djokovic went on to win the next two sets with relative ease.
When Murray hit his last shot of the match into the net, Djokovic treated the crowd at Rod Laver Arena first to a trademark holler, then a victory dance. He had just won his third Australian Open in a row, an unprecedented accomplishment in the Open tennis era.
On hand to present the trophy was the great American star Andre Agassi, the last player to win four Australian Opens. Djokovic congratulated Murray saying of his longtime opponent, “We have played so many good matches in the last few years and hopefully there are many more to come. It’s an incredible feeling to win this trophy once more, it’s definitely my favorite Grand Slam, and I love playing here on this court.”
At 25, Djokovic won’t be stopped at four Australian Open wins. In the meantime, the 2013 schedule awaits. With Rafael Nadal coming back to the courts next month, the Big Four will be battling it out against each other on the clay. The next major will be the French Open from Roland Garros at the end of May.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She writes on professional cycling and covers the Sweet Science for Communities, along with other news in the sports world. Read Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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