I really want to pick Andy Murray to win tomorrow in the Australian Open final and end Novak Djokovic’s reign. But here’s my issue.
Watching his match yesterday against Milos Raonic, had Raonic not pulled up lame in that fourth set I think Murray was heading out. And if he’s losing to Milos how the hell is he going to beat Novak? Granted, Milos has that big serve but the Canadian was doing some damage to Murray off the ground. And Murray wasn’t especially sharp until the very end when Raonic was hobbled.
Djokovic, however, was quite sharp on Thursday night.
Plus, the head-to-head is all in Djokovic’s favor. He leads 21-9 winning 10 of their last 11 (Muray beat him at the Canadian last summer).
That said, all good things must come to an end, and Novak will eventually lose and fall from his perch. Murray’s more than capable of doing that Sunday. Like Gilles Simon, he has the defense, the guile, the speed and the variety of shot to keep Djokovic off balance like the Frenchman was able to do last week. But Murray also has weapons which actually might work against him. If you give Djokovic too much pace, too much angle and too many balls in his vast strikezone, you’re in trouble.
Since Murray’s become more aggressive he’s been losing to Djokovic more – at one point Murray had won 7 of 11 against Serb ending with his 2012 US Open win. Coincidence? Or Maybe Djokovic’s just better now.
Problem is, Djokovic is just so damn comfortable on Rod Laver. If it was Arthur Ashe at the US Open, I’d give Murray a better chance. But Novak’s never lost a final in Melbourne, he’s won all four previous meeting there over Murray, including last year, and he’s playing top-flight tennis.
Meanwhile, Murray arguably should have just lost to Raonic!
If Murray does have one thing going for him here, it’s the impending arrival of his first born. With the baby coming – and assuming all is well with Kim’s father Nigel Sears – I think Murray will be swinging more freely. No one really does expect him to win so I think he’ll go out there with a fun, relaxed attitude. Of course, if he gets close to the finish line, he’ll probably tighten up, but I think he’ll play a good match.
“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,” Murray said. “I need to do it for a very long period if I want to get the win. That’s my challenge on Sunday.”
Murray will have to serve well, hit with depth and force Novak into errors, and maybe that does mean playing a more simon-esq game. And also attack Novak’s second serve. And I mean attack it! Losing 10 of the last 11 clearly isn’t working, so why not change things up!
In the end, Novak’s just better in every category (OK, I’ll give Murray the lob) and he’s more determined. He wants this title. And he’ll have it in the end. In a better, closer match than most people think…
The Pick: Djokovic in 4
As for yesterday, you have to feel bad for Raonic. He had the match in his control as Murray just couldn’t get a solid read on that serve. And Raonic, surprisingly, was able to push Murray around from the baseline and get him on the move. That said, Raonic still had trouble against Murray’s serve, so that’s a department he really needs to work on if he is the break the Big 4 and also he seems to be injury prone. But I think the path he is on and after this start to the season, he is looking more and more like the next player to win a first Grand Slam.
ESPN will again have the men’s final live at 3:30am ET Saturday morning.
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