Common sense would suggest that Novak Djokovic is on the verge of winning his fifth Australian Open title and eighth overall Grand Slam trophy. After all, on paper he looks to have the advantage over two-time Grand Slam champ Andy Murray.
Firstly, Djokovic has won the Aussie a time or two, while Murray was turned back in three previous Australian Open final attempts. Secondly, Djokovic leads Murray 15-8 in their career meetings and won all four matches they played last season. Then there’s the fact that Djokovic is the No. 1 player in the world and Murray weighs in at No. 6, although he’ll move to No. 4 for making the final and No. 3 if he takes the win.
Sometimes, however, what’s on paper has little to no meaning. So it’s important to evaluate both guys in the here-and-now.
Djokovic Lowdown: There’s no denying that Djokovic possesses the No. 1 ranking and that always is an undeniable advantage. That said, he came to Australia off of a lackluster quarterfinal loss at the Qatar Exxonmobil Open, although in his defense he was getting over a bout with the flu. Truth be told, Djoker was lucky not to be tested at the Australian until he met up with defending champion Stan Wawrinka in the semifinals. Suffice it to say, Djokovic appeared uncomfortable in the semis, never getting his sea legs steady. Along with Stan these two big boys put up an astonishing 118 unforced errors. What was rubbing Djokovic the wrong way to make him off-kilter isn’t known – he isn’t saying. Maybe it’s just his infant son, Stefan, didn’t sleep the night through to give Daddy his rest. Against a looking good and fit Murray, Novak will need more.
Murray Lowdown: This guy is brimming with confidence and moving really well on the court. This is a distinct contrast to Murray’s appearance in Melbourne last season when he was only weeks out of back surgery. Andy is just oozing with positive vibes. He’s been tested during his run and kept to his game plan, looking stronger each match played. Worth noting that Murray’s last two wins over Djokovic also coincide with his first two Grand Slam titles, beating the Serbian in the 2012 U.S. Open and 2013 Wimbledon finals. His shotmaking is carefully selected – really like the flatter forehand he’s been hitting as an option – and he’s on form. It’s also hard not to applaud Andy’s public defense of coach Amelie Mauresmo after beating Tomas Berdych in the semifnals.
Bottom Line: These guys should provide a great final for the crowd. One factor in the decision making could be the weather. If it rains the closed roof should give a slight edge to Djokovic, while the outdoor elements could favor Murray. But in the big picture it feels like Andy Murray has the title to win on his racket – a win for not only the Scotsman, but for his bold and unwavering resolve that a good coach is a good coach regardless of their sex.